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INTRODUCTION . . . . ,;-';. XII 


England's No. i orchestral leader Birmingham 
Child prodigy R.A.M. City of Birmingham Orchestra 
BBC Symphony Orchestra Tours abroad Honours 
Rich personality Relaxation Advice to music 
students The Proms Life in the Orchestra The art 
of violin-playing Paul Beard at home . . i 


Spain Early days Belgium A setback London 
His famous Quartet Specialization Benjamin Britten's 
Concerto Brosa's style . . . .8 


A great classical violinist Cabinet-maker's son 
Student days London debut Vienna Berlin The 
Busch Quartet Style of playing America Busch and 
Hitler Busch's technique A famous Strad New York 14 


Return to classical music Rome Early training 
Boy prodigy Honours The slump in music Light 
music Wartime Repertoire CampolTs extraordinary 
technique Gymnastic displays Methods A fine 
record library Personal notes . . .20 


A promising young violinist Music at school Man- 
chester Halle Orchestra War A young musician's 
reactions to barrack life Culture in the army 
Difficulties Carl Flesch Award John Barbirolli 
Cohen's ideas on music and violin-playing . 25 


Russia Imperial School of Music Almost a catastrophe 
St. Petersburg Difficulty with a famous conductor 
English debut King Edward Covertt Garden 
Technical displays American reaction The Tsar's 
exemption Marriage A 10,000 Strad Chamber 
music Repertoire A national institution Technical 
mastery Elman at home His attitude towards Jazz 
Criticism . . . , . 31 

debut Soloist with the 
a Dresden Philharmonic 

Orchestra An important leadership Hindemith and 
Feuern^wx America Interned by the Japanese 
Rescuing "a* Strad Tours as a soloist . . -40 


Tremendous enthusiasm Canada Paying one's way 
R.A.M. Kutcher String Quartet With Adolph 
Busch and Carl Flesch Offers refused Professorship 
R.A.F. Some unusual experiences Boyd Neel 
Orchestra Grinke in Fiji A curious keepsake 
Recordings Repertoire Grinke's style A stimulating 
personality . . . ~. , -45 


A brilliant violinist Poland Carl Flescli Enesco 
and Szigeti Robust style Successes Recordings 
America Necessity of chamber music Miss Haendel 
in private life Crooners . . . 52 


Greatest living violinist Bernard Shaw's advice 
Vilna Early studies Auer gets a surprise St. Peters- 
burg Cold reception Difficulties Student days A 
stampede America Reaction to emotional playing 
Shortcomings First visit to England Criticisms 
World tours The Jewish problem Musical education 
Two precious fiddles Present-day makers Heifetz 
with the troops Repertoire Recordings Arrange- 
ments Honours His style The Heifetz stories 
Heifetz at home Chamber music parties Music in 
darkness Temperament Gardener Heifetz on the 
&*** . 57 


Danish origin An interesting background Boyhood 
memories Copenhagen Student days Berlin Phil- 
harmonic Orchestra A strenuous life Artistic indepen- 
dence Professorship Manchester Loyalty in the 

North Philharmonia Quartet Recordings Tours 

Style Taste in music What is good music ? Hoist's 
ideas about teaching The English audience Personal 
notes , . . . . . 7i 



Veteran violinist Vienna Boyhood Paris Musical 
drudgery Premier Grand Prix Visit to America 
Disillusionment Music forsaken Kreisler as medical 
student As an art student Student life in Paris 
Kreisler as an officer Return to music A lengthy 
struggle America again A romance Fame Kreisler 
in wartime A war casualty War charities 
Antagonism Return to public life Popular concerts 
A tremendous hoax Kreisler attacked An explana- 
tion A street accident Kreisler and the wounded 
His views on broadcasting Kreisler's priceless violins 
and their story His style, cultural background and 
opinions Compositions and recordings Personality 
A great philanthropist A keen scholar Kreisler in 
society Dislike of practising His methods . . 78 


A star of tomorrow? A Londoner Education 
Amateur theatricals Her debut Modern music 
Brussels Her ideals Taste in literature Recreations 91 


Another brilliant young violinist New Zealand 
London Albert Sammons Debut Praise by the 
critics A good start Remarkable technical ability 
A lover of Bach An unaffected artist * . -94 


Birkenhead Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra Halle" 
Orchestra Carl Flesch Solo work Finland London 
Philharmonic Orchestra Britten's Concerto British 
artists His methods How to practise Advice to 
young violinists Chess . . , 97 


Rashly optimistic parents Childhood Leopold Auer 
Queen's Hall American and Canadian tour 
Concerts for children Germany Menges Quartet 
Professorship Advice to students of the violin 
Technique and interpretation Her taste in music 
Booklover Animals . . . .103 



Jewish parents Childhood Prodigy Amazing skill 
What the critics said Albert Einstein Yehudi in high 
society Toscanini Some amusing incidents Menuhin 
and Elgar Tours General education Hephzibah 
Menuhin Withdrawal Reappearance An accom- 
plished musician A robust young man Recreations 
Unspoilt by wealth Menuhin in wartime Work 
for charities The art of Menuhin His methods His 
famous Strad Recordings . . . .108 


Odessa Two famous masters Early struggles Con- 
ditions in Russia Horowitz Paris Astonishing tech- 
nique Stokowski American citizen Milstein's style 
Admirers in England His interpretations In private 
life His famous Strads . . . . 119 


Sweeping successes Early days in Paris Carl Flesch 
England Jean Neveu Her artistic principles 
Sibelius Concerto A strongly marked personality . 125 


Not a Frenchman Boyhood An early debut Dance 
music BBC Salon Orchestra Leadership of the L.P.O. 
Soloist Restrained style Recordings Idealist At 
home ...... 129 


A great teacher Austria His masters Professorship 
in Berlin Rostal and the Nazi Party Arrival in 
England Wartime difficulties An accident Guild- 
hall School of Music Editing Beethoven's cadenzas 
Modern music RostaPs ideas Interpretation 
Essentials for the violinist Style Advice to young 
players His pupils The Rostal Strad Rostal at 
home Art His studio . . . . 134 


Honoured British violinist His art A typical English- 
man A Londoner Not an easy life Earning his own 
living Early engagements Self-taught Rank and file 
musician Discovered by Sir Thomas Beecham The 
Elgar Concerto Sammons in the Guards Petition 
to the Ministry of Labour His repertoire Balance and 
control Recording difficulties A shock Sammons and 
the engineers Champion of the British musician 
Advice to violinists His superb Gofriller Sammons 
in private life ..... 142 



Promising young artist Unusual intellect Musicians 
with one-track minds Ilford Schooling Orchestral 
experience London recitals Repertoire Style His 
method of practising His outlook Love of sport 
Wimbledon . . . . . -15? 


An emotional player Odessa Pupil of Auer Scandin- 
avia America London Columbia Broadcasting 
System His recreations Seidel on the films In the 
U.S. Navy . . . . . .163 


An intellectual artist Budapest Pupil of Hubay 
London debut Gifted but unspoilt boy Geneva 
United States His restrained style Honours World 
tours A narrow escape An interesting personality 
Modern music Repertoire Recordings His methods 
His interests No snobbery Cultural value of sport 167 


Master of the French School Bordeaux A sensitive 
boy Paris A cafe in the Latin Quarter Golonne 
Orchestra Opportunity Tours Patriot War service 
French Intelligence Service His beautiful violins 
His style Social value of music The critical attitude 
Chamber music. . . . . . 175 


An ambition fulfilled Childhood Necessary induce- 
ment R.C.M. Invitation from the BBC A tribute 
Life in the BBC Symphony Orchestra Her popularity 
Professorship Soloist again Style Repertoire Op- 
portunities for good players to-day Advice to students 
of the violin No affectation Literary taste Culinary 
art . . . . . .180 


Another Russian With Auer at St. Petersburg London 
America World tours His art Composer Interest 
in contemporary music A genial personality His 
parties An evening with Zimbalist Collector 
Library His ancient instruments and his famous 
Strad . . . . . .188 
















> 5 


M n 99 

* jj >} J<* 





THE purpose of this volume is to provide the music- 
lover with a convenient collection of short biographies 
of some of the violinists we hear to-day. In it are 
portrayed "artists of fame and promise", as the proprie- 
tors of those excellent little galleries in Leicester Square 
would say, and it is perfectly obvious that the degree 
of fame enjoyed by the subjects varies enormously. A 
good proportion of British violinists are included 
because it is time we realized that this country can 
produce fine executants as well as brilliant composers, 
and there are a few very young players whose careers 
are likely to be interesting if they are given a fair 

It should be quite clear that no attempt has been 
made to produce a comprehensive collection, for that 
would be impossible without an unlimited supply of 
paper, and the absence of any particular artist does 
not mean that his or her merits have been overlooked. 

Most of the information in this book I have gathered 
personally over a number of years and in recent 
interviews with the subjects concerned, but in the case 
of one or two foreign artists, some of whom I have been 
able to see for only very short periods, the facts gathered 
have been supplemented by their friends or other 
persons acquainted with their careers. In such cases, 
however, I have done my best to check their statements, 
and in this process I have consulted as many periodicals 
and reference books as possible, and I wish to acknow- 
ledge my indebtedness to such publications as The 
Stead, The Musical Times, Musical Opinion, Current 
Biography and David Ewen's Living Musicians (EL W. 
Wilson Company of New York), as well as certain 
other publications mentioned in the text. 

I also wish to thank all those artists who have so 
kindly given up a great deal of their time in assisting 
me, and to one or two other people who have helped 
in a variety of ways, especially Miss G. M. O'Connor 


of Messrs. Harold Holt Ltd., Miss A. Hurst of Ibbs 
and Tillett Ltd., and Miss Lereculey of the same firm. 

If this volume gives pleasure to music-lovers and is 
of some small service as a book of reference for much 
of the information in it will not be found elsewhere 
it will have fulfilled its purpose. 

Autumn, 1947 



TO some, it may seem odd that a book devoted 
primarily to solo violinists should open with a sketch 
of an eminent orchestral leader. This is, of course, due 
to the fact that in order to avoid all questions of 
precedence the subjects in this collection of biographies 
are arranged alphabetically. But even if that were not 
the case, it would not be at all inappropriate to write 
first of all about Paul Beard because he holds a peculiar 
place in English music: a key position, as it were, of 
special significance. He has done quite a substantial 
amount of solo work in his time, but it is more as 
England's No. i orchestral leader that he now claims 
our attention. He stands as representative of orchestral 
playing at its highest level, and of a body of hard- 
working musicians who are too often taken for granted 
by those whose sense of proportion is apt to be un- 
balanced by the glamour that inevitably surrounds the 
soloist. Moreover, that reference to hard-working 
musicians applies not only to the members of the 
BBC Symphony Orchestra but to all who comprise 
the symphony orchestras of this country. 

He was born in Birmingham on 4 August, 1901, 
son of a viola player who spent the greater part of his 
life in orchestras and chamber music ensembles. He 
was brought up in a musical environment, since all 
the family were interested in the art, and started to 
learn the violin when he was but three years of age 
under the guidance of his father. His first public 
appearance was made when he was six: a great success 


that established him as a child prodigy. A drawerful 
of photographs still in his possession reveals that he was 
an extremely good-looking lad, and one cannot help 
wondering how many old ladies 3 hearts were touched 
by this Eton-collared phenomenon. Actually, he was 
somewhat less cherubic than he appeared, for he was 
a typical English schoolboy, full of fun and mischief, 
and quite as fond of cricket as of music. 

He toured England as a boy violinist until 1914, 
when two scholarships took him to the Royal Academy 
of Music to study under Rowsby Woof. He did very 
well there, since his scholarships were extended, and 
wrote a violin concerto which was performed in the 
Queen's Hall at one of the Academy concerts. 

His student days over, he returned to his native city 
and resumed solo and quartet work, doing in addition 
as much teaching as his fairly frequent Continental 
tours would permit. Then, in the early nineteen* 
twenties, he accepted the leadership of the City of 
Birmingham Orchestra, which was then conducted by 
Appleby Matthews, a prominent local musician. Dr. 
Adrian Boult succeeded Matthews in 1924, and Paul 
Beard led for him throughout his six years 5 sojourn in 
the midland capital. Boult was succeeded in 1930 by 
Leslie Heward, and Paul Beard stayed with the orchestra 
until 1932 when Sir Thomas Beecham invited Mm to 
lead the old London Philharmonic Orchestra. He 
worked under the dynamic baton of "Tommy" for 
four years; then, in the autumn of 1936, succeeded the 
late Arthur Gatterall as leader of the BBC Symphony 

Paul Beard accepted a professorship at the Royal 
College of Music in 1937, or thereabouts, and held that 
position until the outbreak of the war, when the BBC 
Symphony Orchestra was evacuated to Bristol. In 1942 
Sir Henry Wood felt that the Royal Academy of 
Music needed the services of a first-class leader for 

Annie Freidberg 




the training of good orchestral players, so he 
recommended that Paul Beard, who was then with the 
BBC Orchestra at Bedford and who had already been 
elected a Fellow of the Academy, should be offered a 
professorship. Although he had previously been on the 
staff of the rival establishment at Kensington, Beard 
accepted the offer, and since that time has done very 
valuable work in preparing young violinists for orchestral 
appointments. It is his ambition to establish a really 
sound body of young orchestral players in this country. 
He declares that there is truly remarkable talent among 
the rising generation which, if properly cultivated, will 
enable this country to lead the world in ensemble playing 
before very long. 

He was the youngest leader in England to complete 
twenty-five years as a leader of first-class professional 
orchestras, for in addition to the major appointments 
already mentioned, he spent some years in leading 
such ensembles as the ill-fated National Orchestra of 
Wales, the Spa Orchestra at Scarborough, and the 
Llandudno Orchestra. His experience has been wide 
and varied. Apart from an enormous amount of 
symphonic work, he has played for opera and ballet, 
in trios, quartets and other chamber groups, and has 
not scorned even light music. 

Paul (as everybody seems to call him: one rarely 
hears a reference to "Mr. Beard") has played under 
almost every conductor of importance in the world, 
from Toscanini downwards. What a musical education 
that has been 1 He has also met scores of contem- 
porary composers of all nations, and been privileged to 
discuss their works with them. 

When the BBC Symphony Orchestra visited Paris 
early in 1947, Paul Beard and Sir Adrian Boult were 
awarded the Ami de Paris (something like the freedom 
of the city) and like other recipients of this honour, were 
each presented with an etching of Notre-Dame by 
Robert Garni. 


This is but one of the many honours Paul has 
received. Perhaps it should also be said that he has been 

Presented to every member of the Royal Family since 
eorge V. In June 1947 he was presented to Queen 
Wilhelmina when the BBC Symphony Orchestra visited 

He is such a rich personality that it is not surprising 
to find that his interests are extremely varied. Consider 
his recreations: golf, tennis, cricket, swimming, shooting, 
fishing, rowing, gardening, billiards, snooker, poker . . . 
there seems to be no end to the list. He can talk about 
them, especially cricket and football, for hours on end. 
But even that is not the sum of his interests : he is very 
fond of the theatre and can discuss a play like any 
critic, and if you happen to catch him with a book it 
will probably be something by John Galsworthy, Richard 
Aldington, Neil Bell, Somerset Maugham, Aldous 
Huxley or Bernard Shaw. For sheer relaxation he 
favours a thriller of the better type, but it must be well 
constructed and logical. 

Relaxation is a subject upon which he holds strong 
views. He feels it is absolutely essential that a musician 
should be able to get away from music completely at 
times, otherwise he cannot hope to keep up to the high 
standard of physical fitness that his work demands. 
Few people realize the strain placed upon orchestral 
players when they are giving half-a-dozen or more, 
concerts a week with two or three rehearsals for each 
of them. The life of the musician is not an easy one, 
and he feels that this should be made plain to students 
before they make up their minds to enter the profession. 
A really gifted student should be able to make 
excellent progress by doing no more than four hours* 
hard practising a day. If he tries to do more it will 
probably avail him nothing, since it is useless to practise 
when one is jaded: it can even do no small amount of 
harm. Paul recommends two hours in the morning and 
two in the evening, each session to be divided by an 


hour's complete break. If this plan is followed, the 
afternoon should be regarded as a time for relaxation 
of some sort anything unconnected with music. It is 
only by planning one's time on lines such as these that 
one can be sure of approaching music with a fresh, 
clear mind. That is absolutely essential to healthy 
artistic development : Paul has seen plenty of promising 
young talent utterly ruined through lack of respite for 
the mind. 

He is quite confident about the future of music in 
this country: his experience has taught him that if 
good music is well played there will always be plenty 
of people ready to appreciate it. This, he says, was 
proved once again by the 1947 Promenade season, and 
now that three orchestras share the work of it and are 
allowed sufficient time for rehearsal, he believes that 
this splendid institution will go from strength to strength 
and become a wonderful memorial to its beloved founder. 

It will be noted that, unlike certain supercilious 
people in the musical profession, he does not speak of 
the Proms in a patronising and slightly contemptuous 
tone. The misplaced enthusiasm of some of the 
"Prommers" is easily understood when one considers 
the number of very young people in the audience who 
are still learning to enjoy good music. And who ever 
stops learning? Possibly some of the precious people 
who speak cynically of the Proms. 

Why is it that Paul Beard does not do more solo 
work? The answer refutes Sir Thomas Beecham's 
famous remark that all orchestral players are disap- 
pointed soloists. He actually prefers leading the BBC 
Symphony Orchestra to travelling as a virtuoso. When 
he was a youth he was given the chance of deciding 
which type of work he would prefer, and he deliberately 
chose orchestral work, chiefly because of the richer 
experience it affords, of the comradeship that one enjoys 
in a good orchestra, and of the importance of the job 


generally. Is it so very surprising that he should prefer 
to play the vast repertoire of the BBC Symphony 
Orchestra, under the finest conductors in the world 
and in the company of all his friends, rather than spend 
a lonely life dragging a repertoire of a few dozen pieces 
around the world and living almost entirely in the 
impersonal atmosphere of hotels? 

Paul loves the c 'family life" of the orchestra, as he 
calls it. There is always plenty of company, always 
someone with whom one can swop a story, always 
someone willing to come for a pint of bitter . . . always 
someone to share a jolly good grouse: that time-honoured 
privilege of the Englishman which is about all that 
is left to him to-day. But that is not all: he loves 
extending a helping hand to some passionately sincere 
youngster with a little more than the average skill. 
After all, there is always the possibility that some nervous 
youth just appointed to the back desk might blossom 
forth as the Heifetz of to-morrow. Watch Paul at a 
rehearsal of his section when some difficult new work 
has to be studied : he will gather even the most junior 
members around him and give them the benefit of his 
years of experience without making them feel like 

His sincerity is all the more striking when one recalls 
the number of bored faces one so often sees in the ranks 
of professional orchestras. "If music doesn't mean any- 
thing to you emotionally, 53 he declares, "then leave it 
alone." Technique is not everything, for the ability to 
play music is not the sole qualification of a musician. 
Emotional satisfaction must come first. 

Paul Beard is not interested in any eccentric notions 
about violin-playing. It is true that he generally uses 
only three fingers on the bow, but that is due entirely 
to the fact that the little finger of his right hand is 
unusually short, and therefore of little use. He attaches 
great importance to freedom of movement and graceful 
bowing, and considers that the motion of good spiccato 


bowing is the basis of all movements. He thinks that it 
is probably because the left hand needs so much 
training that the right is frequently neglected. "When 
anything goes wrong at a public performance it is 
usually the bow/ 3 he declares. 

He was married in 1925 to Joyce Cass-Smith, a 
member of a well-known North of England family. 
They have two children: Pauline, aged seventeen, who 
is studying classical languages, and David, aged fifteen, 
who is already an able violinist and hopes to follow his 
father's footsteps. Their home is at Wembley Park: 
a very pleasant house standing in about an acre of 
garden which, Paul insists, he tends himself. How he 
finds time to keep those pleasant lawns and extensive 
flower beds so trim is a mystery, but when you have 
spent a few hours talking to this vivid personality and 
he is a great conversationalist you begin to realize 
that his energy knows no bounds. 


ALTHOUGH he is now well-known on both sides 
of the Atlantic as a solo violinist of great technical 
ability, it is perhaps in the realm of chamber music 
that Antonio Brosa has achieved the greatest distinction. 
The string quartet that for well over a decade bore his 
name was one of the few really first-class ensembles 
we possessed, and there were many expressions of 
regret when pressure of solo work forced him to disband 

He was born in Spain, at Tarragona, in 1894, and 
was initiated into the technicalities of music at a very 
early age by his father, a bandmaster, who was an 
exceptionally fine trumpet player. For some reason, 
wind instruments did not make a very strong appeal 
to Antonio as a boy, though he loved attending his 
father's rehearsals: he "fell" for the fiddle and would 
walk about manipulating two sticks in imitation of a 
violinist he greatly admired. When he was five, a friend 
of the family gave him a half-sized fiddle, and he 
practised on it with such zest that within eighteen 
months he was allowed to play a piece in public with a 
discreet accompaniment by his father's band. His 
father rewarded him by a generous addition to that 
week's pocket-money, and he was very proud indeed 
of having earned his first "fee" so early in life. 

The bandmaster was not at all keen for his son to 
become a musician, but the lad did so well with his 
little fiddle during the next few years that it would 
have been a pity to discourage him. When he was ten 


years old he was taken to Barcelona to play before 
Mathieu Crickboom, but as that eminent teacher was 
just about to return to Belgium it was arranged that the 
boy should study with Crickboom's colleague, Enrique 
Ainaud. It was at about this time that he made his 
first important public appearance. Ainaud was so 
pleased with him that he offered to train him at half- 
fees. The offer was gladly accepted, for the move to 
Barcelona meant that Brosa's father had been obliged 
to give up an unusually good appointment. At the end 
of the first month, however, Ainaud declared that he 
would willingly give the lessons without payment of 
any kind. 

Brosa's playing soon aroused a great deal of interest, 
and after a splendid concert given at the age of fourteen 
he was told that the Province of Barcelona had awarded 
him an official grant so that he could go to Belgium to 
study with Crickboom. Actually, he had already 
visited Belgium for lessons with this master, but the 
grant made it possible to go again for a much longer 
course. Strictly speaking, he was not really entitled 
to the grant at all because he was not a native of 
Barcelona, but all conditions concerning birth and 
residence in the province were waived because it was 
felt that he possessed quite remarkable talent, 

It is curious to note that during the first twenty-five 
years of his life, Brosa was dogged by misfortune: he 
met with a series of accidents that might easily have 
ended his career as a musician. The worst of them 
was when he was involved in a motor accident and 
fractured his left arm. He was unaware of the injury 
until the last item of a recital he gave immediately 
afterwards. In this he had to make an unusual stretch 
with his left hand, and as he did so he was conscious 
of a sharp pain near his elbow. Fortunately, after a 
period of convalescence, he recovered full use of the 
arm. On another occasion he was walking along a 


street in Barcelona when a balcony crashed down on 
the pavement only a few yards in front of him. It was 
this that made him wonder whether or not he was ill- 
fated, and one cannot blame him for making a supreme 
effort to get away from Barcelona once and for all! 

His progress in Brussels brought him the offer of an 
attractive series of engagements for the autumn of 1914, 
but luck was still against him, for the outbreak of war 
in August of that year compelled him to flee to England. 
He arrived in London with twenty-five francs, and 
knew not a soul. It was a bewildering experience, and 
he began to wonder whether he would have to play 
in the streets. Fortunately, he received the assistance of 
an organization that was trying to help refugee 
musicians, and in due time was able to get sufficient 
work to support himself. He has always been deeply 
grateful for the help given to him by Edith Lyttelton, 
especially because it was through her that he met his 
wife, Margaret Dallas, an artist and a granddaughter 
of Sir Charles Santley, the famous singer. 

For a while, Brosa accepted various orchestral jobs 
in order to pay his way, and his real debut in this 
country was not made until 1919, when he gave a 
recital that drew a considerable amount of attention 
to his outstanding ability. 

His famous string quartet was founded in 1925 and 
rose to fame quickly. A great encouragement to them 
was the invitation they received from the Elizabeth 
Sprague Coolidge Foundation to visit America, of 
which the outcome was that they toured the United 
States in 1931, 1932 and 1934. During the following 
four or five years they toured all over the world, but 
during that time Brosa's reputation as a soloist was 
advancing rapidly, and by 1939 he was so inundated 
with demands for his solo services that he was obliged 
to disband^ the quartet. Moreover, he had always been 
interested in solo work and sensed a disadvantage in 


becoming too well known as leader of the Brosa Quartet, 
for it is unfortunately true that in music anybody who 
specializes in one particular form of activity is apt to 
be looked upon as one who cannot, or does not wish to, 
do anything else. In America, for instance, he was 
regarded exclusively as a chamber music player until 
the spring of 1940. It was on 28 March of that year 
that he made his debut as a solo violinist with the New 
York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, when he 
played Benjamin Britten's concerto. This concerto, as 
the reader is probably well aware, is a work of extreme 
difficulty., and the ease with which Brosa played it 
caused a minor sensation among many violinists who 
were present. It is perhaps worthy of record that while 
Britten was writing this work he frequently called in 
Brosa to act as consulting specialist, a fact that drew 
from Mr. William McNaught, the editor of the Musical 
Times, the remark that the composer had evidently 
been engaged in a search for the limit of the possible ! 
However, Brosa' s success with this concerto brought him a 
gratifyingly large number of offers of further engagements. 

Despite his decision to concentrate upon solo work, 
Brosa led the Pro Arte String Quartet in America for 
four years during the early part of the Second World 
War, though this was, of course, combined with many 
solo appearances in the United States. 

In recent years he has given several recitals in 
England, and many will recall his excellent broadcasts 
on the Third Programme, in which he has been featured 
prominently as a soloist. His recital at the Wigmore 
Hall on 15 July, 1946, gave us a splendid opportunity 
of admiring his wonderful technique, though there 
were some criticisms of his style in certain works. In 
the Stravinsky Duo Concertante he swept through the 
many technical difficulties as if they had been second- 
year exercises, and with an ease that compelled admira- 
tion. He also gave a very fine rendering of the Max 
Bruch Concerto No. i. 


Brosa's style is clean and neat, his intonation is 
invariably accurate, and his bowing is quite masterly. 
To almost every type of modern work it seems well 
suited, but it is not quite so effective in music of the 
eighteenth century. His interpretations of the works of 
contemporary composers are always conscientious and 

He has not made many recordings in this country 
in recent years, the only well-known one being the 
Mendelssohn Concerto, for H.M.V. 

Brosa has always taken the keenest interest in the 
works of modern English composers he played a 
great deal of music by Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Bax 
and Frank Bridge in Germany before the war, for 
instance and of his younger contemporaries he feels 
that Britten, Berkeley, Rubbra and Tippett, especially, 
are worthy of attention. He also watches carefully the 
work of the few Spanish composers that are now trying 
to make themselves heard, and has had a concerto 
written expressly for him by Robert Gerhard. 

When discussing the subject of interpretation with 
him, one finds that Brosa places great emphasis upon the 
necessity of understanding the "language" of each 
composer. Music played without this understanding is 
like poetry read in a foreign language by someone who 
is entirely ignorant of the meaning of the words: it 
may sound quite all right to a casual listener, but to 
the serious and attentive person it is robbed of all its 

Brosa uses the Vesuvius Strad dated 1727, and prefers 
a gut A string. He has tried the new nylon strings and 
believes that they have great possibilities, though he 
rarely uses them in public on account of their tendency 
to "whistle". 

Although he accepts few private pupils he is fond 
of teaching, and has recently been appointed head of 
the violin department of Smith College, Northampton, 
Mass., with the title of "Artist in residence". His 


duties Include not only teaching but the giving of regular 
recitals in the college. It is perhaps of interest to note 
that when advising young players he always urges 

them not to be afraid of playing In their own way. Too 
many violinists are striving to become Imitation 
Heifetzes, and that Is a great pity because they are 
stifling their own personalities and losing the art and 
satisfaction of expressing themselves. He also disap- 
proves of the tendency to worship technique above 
everything else: the musical world seems to be full of 
technicians but true artists are becoming like currants 
in the proverbial bun. The value of playing chamber 
music as a means of deepening one's interpretative 
powers cannot be over-rated: it Is an essential factor 
in the training of a good solo artist. 

Few of his admirers are aware that Brosa Is quite 
an accomplished painter In oils and delights In sketching. 
He can also speak no fewer than five languages and is 
now engaged in learning a sixth: Russian. His literary 
taste is chiefly for good fiction. 

Sport of all types has always appealed strongly to 
him, and it does not require any very strong temptation 
to make him attend a football match. At one time he 
was also a splendid tennis player, but he confesses 
that in recent years his racquet has fallen into disuse. 
Table-tennis and billiards often occupy spare moments 


IN the period between the two world wars, Adolf 
Busch succeeded in building up such a fine reputation 
as a classical violinist that to-day his name is known and 
respected in every country of the world, and it is worth 
remembering that he won his laurels, not only as a 
soloist whose technique could dazzle the general musical 
public, but also as a chamber musician whose profound 
artistry could impress the more discriminating type of 

He was born on 8 August 1891 in the Westphalian 
town of Siegen, son of a cabinet-maker who had for 
years cherished an ambition to make a name as a 
professional musician but who had unfortunately been 
kept to his trade by financial difficulties. However, this 
good craftsman consoled himself by making and playing 
violins and running an amateur orchestra, and it was 
a great joy to him that his small son should take such 
a keen interest in his hobby. When the lad was but three 
years of age he was given a fiddle, and it was chiefly 
his overwhelming desire to play in his father's little 
orchestra that made him practise so assiduously. The 
keen sense of music that he had inherited made progress 
very rapid, and he had already appeared in public by 
the time he reached his sixth birthday. 

He was about ten years old when his father decided 
that he should have a proper musical education. As a 
first move in that direction he was sent to an uncle in 
Duisburg so that he could have the advantage of tuition 
from the more competent teachers in that city, but he 



had not been there a year when the State Director of 
Music recognized his great talent and secured his 
admission to the Musikalische Hochschule at Cologne. 
Here he studied under Willi Hess and Fritz Steinbach, 
and, a little later, became a pupil of Bram Eldering. 
It is interesting to note that during his student days he 
distinguished himself not only as a violinist but as a 
composer: he was barely fourteen when he had a com- 
plete symphony to his credit. 

His elder brother Fritz, who was later to establish 
himself as a conductor, was also studying music at the 
time, and the strain upon the cabinet-maker's slender 
resources became so great that the two brothers had to 
accept engagements to play dance music in order to 
pay their way. 

Concluding his course at the age of eighteen, Adolf 
Busch had the honour of performing his own Serenade 
for Orchestra at a concert arranged by his college. His 
playing on this occasion was particularly brilliant, and 
immediately afterwards he began to receive offers of 
engagements as a soloist in Berlin and Vienna. 

His next move was to Bonn, where he took a short 
course of lessons with Hugo Griiters, and, incidentally, 
fell in love with that professor's daughter, Frieda. They 
married a few years later in 1913. 

His successes in Central Europe now led to his first 
visit to England, and he made his debut in London in 
the spring of 1912. The critics agreed that he was one 
of the most promising young violinists they had heard 
for many a year. Some idea of their enthusiasm may be 
gained from The Strad^ whose critic declared in the 
April issue of that year: 

"He is a violinist of remarkable calibre and will, I 
think, shortly be in the first flight. The playing is 
uncompromisingly classical, but the high aims of the 
young artist, one feels, are by no means beyond his 


Commenting on Busch's playing of the Brahms 
Concerto the same critic said that although he had not 
the polish of some of the other players then before the 
public, no one short of Kreisler could approach him for 
purity of style and intense beauty of phrasing. 

When he was twenty-one, Busch was invited to 
become the leader of the Konzertverein Orchestra, 
Vienna, which was then being conducted by Ferdinand 
Loewe. For five years he held this position, and it was 
during this period that he formed the first string quartet 
to bear his name. 

In 1917, when he was only twenty-six years of age, 
Busch was invited to succeed Henry Marteau at the 
Berlin Hochschule as chief professor of the violin: the 
post that Joachim had held some ten years previously. 
This entailed removal to Berlin, of course, and severance 
with the Vienna orchestra, but the honour was too 
great to refuse. In Berlin he was able to devote more 
time to chamber music, and two years after his arrival 
in the German capital he founded another string quartet. 
This was the Busch String Quartet that was to become 
famous all over the world. Its personnel was changed 
somewhat during the ensuing twenty years or so, and 
the ensemble that did the extensive tours during the 
mneteen-thirties consisted of Adolf Busch as leader, 
Gosta Andreasson (second violin), Karl Doktor (viola) 
and Hermann Busch, the leader's younger brother 
('cellist). When the quartet visited England in the 
spring of 1947, Adolf Busch's three associates were 
Ernst Drucker (second violin), Hugo Gottesmann 
(viola) and Hermann Busch. 

The many fine recordings made by this quartet 
for H.M.V, include five Beethoven quartets: No. n in 
F minor, No. 16 in F, No. 14 in C-sharp minor, No. 15 
in A minor and No. 18 in F; the Schubert Quartet 
in D minor; and, with Reginald Kell playing the 
clarinet, the Brahms Quintet in B minor, Opus 115. 

Only those who have played in string quartets can 


properly appreciate the tremendous amount of work 
that these four musicians did to bring their little 
ensemble to such a high standard of excellence. It has 
been said that they rehearsed nine hours a day for 
many weeks prior to some of their great achievements. 
The extensive tour of America that was made in 1939, 
for instance, opened with a series of five concerts in 
New York before one of the most critical audiences 
ever assembled in that city, and a few unfavourable or 
indifferent reports in the papers might have adversely 
affected the entire tour. 

The quartet is now far-famed for its scholarly 
readings, impeccable style and the infinite variety of 
tone that all four seem to be able to produce with such 
ease. One feels that they never play to "make an impres- 
sion" : they seem quite lost in the beauty of their work. 

To return to the purely biographical aspect of this 
sketch: it should be recorded that Adolph Busch's 
first visit to America was in 1931 when he made his 
debut as a soloist in the Beethoven Concerto with the 
New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. His 
playing made a deep impression upon Toscanini, and 
later in the same year he made a prolonged tour with 
the great conductor. In due course a cordial friendship 
sprang up between them. 

The rise of Hitler to power in Germany was a matter 
of great concern to Busch, and although he possessed 
no Semitic blood himself, he protested strongly when 
the Nazis began their persecution of the Jews. Then 
came the official interference in German art, the banning 
of music by Jewish composers, and all the other absurdi- 
ties and injustices that characterized the National 
Socialist regime; so he cancelled all his engagements 
and came to England. Later, he moved to Switzerland, 
and in 1935 took Swiss nationality. He then declared 
that he would never again play in any country that 
was not ruled by a free, democratic government. 


Busch's name was now becoming associated with 
that of his talented son-in-law, Rudolf Serkin, the 
pianist, for they had been giving some excellent recitals 
together. Perhaps the most important of these took 
place during the 1937-8 season, when they played all 
the violin sonatas of Beethoven in New York. In its 
report, the New Tork Times declared that the highest 
ideals of ensemble playing had been realized. Among 
their recordings will be found the Brahms Sonata in 
A, Opus 100, No. 2; Schumann's Sonata in A minor, 
Opus 105; and the Beethoven "Spring" Sonata in F, 
Opus 24, all of which are by H.M.V. 

Another of Adolf Busch's organizations is the 
ensemble known as the Busch Chamber Players. Their 
many activities have included the recording of such 
works as all the Bach Brandenburg Concertos for 
Columbia, and the same composer's Suites Nos. i in 
C, 2 in B minor, 3 in D and 4 in D, for H.M.V., as 
well as Mozart's Serenade in D (Serenata notturna, K.239). 
Then again there is that delightful trio in which he is 
associated with his younger brother and Rudolf Serkin. 
These three have not been heard together very often, 
it is true, but many music lovers will recall with pleasure 
their superb playing of classical trios. 

Busch will long be remembered as the possessor 
of one of the finest bow arms in existence. His faultless 
phrasing one takes for granted, but his superb "elastic" 
cantilena is something that only the really great violinists 
seem to achieve. 

His tone is somewhat harder than that of most 
other prominent violinists of the day : a fact that some- 
times causes disappointment among those who hear 
him in person for the first time, particularly if they 
have been listening to a good deal of violin-playing 
reproduced by a certain type of radio set. 1 But this 

*So many people demand radio sets that produce a woolly, 
"luscious" tone, irrespective of what goes into the microphone 


Gramophone Co 



more metallic tone seems to suit his severely classical 
style, and few would wish to hear a "sensuous" tone 
from this reserved and somewhat austere artist. He 
uses the precious c; Ex- Wiener Strad", dated 1732, which 
bears the maker's personal testimony that he made it 
in his eighty-ninth year. It is very brown, and heavily 
varnished. The tone is unusually rich and even on all 
four strings. 

Busch has composed a variety of works for violin 
and piano, and has shown great understanding of the 
human voice in the various songs he has written. His 
compositions also include a good deal of chamber music 
and a Symphony in E, which the New York Philharmonic 
Orchestra performed under the direction of his brother 
Fritz in November 1927. 

It might be recorded here that Adolf Busch received 
a degree of Doctor of Music at Edinburgh University 
during a visit to this country in 1935. At the present 
time he lives in New York, though one rarely finds him 
settled at any place for long, because he still tours 
extensively. Almost every musical centre of any 
importance in America has received visits from him, 
and he always likes to come to England at least once 
or twice every year. In 1945 he went to Reykjavik at 
the invitation of the Icelandic Government and gave 
a series of three recitals. 

that manufacturers can scarcely be blamed for adjusting their 
wares accordingly. Unfortunately, one can scarcely hope for any 
improvement in the taste of the general public so long as a complete 
travesty of music is boomed into our cinemas. 


CAMPOLPS name was associated with light music 
for so many years that when he resumed classical work 
a few years ago his remarkable technique and deep 
understanding of great music came as a surprise to 
most of the younger members of the audiences he 
delighted. His older listeners, on the other hand, were 
more prepared for his welcome return to the concert 
hall, for they had many happy memories of his fine 
playing of the classics during the early nineteen- 

Alfredo Campoli was born in Rome in 1906 and had 
the good fortune to enjoy a musical environment from 
the first. His father (who taught him his art) was a 
professor of the violin and leader of the St. Cecilia 
Conservatoire in Rome, and his mother was a prominent 
dramatic soprano who for several years toured with 
Caruso. Consequently, he was trained entirely in the 
Italian style. It is interesting to note that his father 
used to buy him gramophone records made by the 
eminent Italian singer Mattia Battistini (1857-1928), 
and always urged him to model his phrasing upon that 
of this fine baritone. " Listen to him and copy him 
upon your fiddle," his father would say. Thus, if one 
may use a term much abused in the world of song, 
Campoli acquired a "bel canto" style in his playing, 
and it is this that so many people admire to-day. It is 
said that Sir Thomas Beecham, in particular, is very 
enthusiastic about Campolfs style. 

Campoli came to London in 1911 and made his 



debut as a violinist when he was very young indeed. 
He has now forgotten the exact date, but he remembers 
that he was giving regular public recitals when he was 
but ten years of age. All manner of prizes were acquired 
by him in his childhood, and soon after his twelfth 
birthday he was forbidden to enter any more competi- 
tions of the festival type, for he had already won seven 
first prizes, two gold medals and a silver cup! 

We may now pass on to the year 1919, when he 
entered the London Musical Festival and won the gold 
medal for his playing of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. 
He received the award from the hands of Princess Mary, 
and when he met Her Royal Highness for a second time 
some twenty years later, he was particularly gratified 
to find that she still remembered their original meeting. 

In the year 1921 Gampoli gave a series of six recitals 
at the Wigmore Hall and made a very favourable 
impression upon the critics. It was as a result of this 
that he was approached by the late Lionel Powell and 
engaged for a series of International Celebrity subscrip- 
tion concerts. So the fifteen-year-old violinist found 
himself touring the British Isles with such great 
personalities as Melba and Dame Clara Butt and 
enjoying it immensely. 

For the next few years Gampoli enjoyed a steady 
run of successes, but in due course the great slump came, 
and the many thousands who had flocked to hear him 
became more concerned with the struggle for the 
necessities of life than with attendance at violin recitals. 
For the professional musician without private means, the 
outlook was dark indeed. Some men left the profession 
to earn their livelihoods by less precarious means, but 
Campoli decided to stick to his job even if it meant 
using his skill in slightly less dignified circumstances. 
So he formed a small orchestra of his own and under- 
took broadcasting and recording of light music- This 
saved the situation, and he was still able to accept 


concert engagements from time to time. It should not 
be forgotten that even during his "light music days" 
Campoli played concertos in various parts of the country, 
including Birmingham, Bournemouth and Torquay. 

When the Second World War brought a tremendous 
demand for the finest music, Campoli disbanded his 
orchestra conscription had already begun the process, 
anyway and offered his services to E.N.S.A. and 
C.E.M.A. Within a few weeks he was touring the 
country again giving concerts in military camps, 
factories, hospitals and so forth. Realizing that the 
revival of interest in music was something that had 
come to stay, he spent most of his leisure hours in 
rebuilding his extensive classical repertoire. Such 
concertos as the Bach E major, the Brahms, Beethoven, 
Bruch in G minor, Elgar, Mendelssohn, Paganini in 
D, Saint-Saens No. 3 in B minor, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, 
Vieuxtemps No. 4 in D minor, Vivaldi and the 
Walton, together with two of Mozart's violin concertos 
(No. 4 in D and No. 6 in E-flat) and the Lalo concerto 
(Symphonie Espagnole) all these, and dozens of violin 
sonatas, had to be polished and re-polished in between 
those seemingly endless concerts for soldiers, sailors, 
airmen and factory workers. 

One of Gampoli's earlier successes during the war 
years was at a Promenade concert in 1944 when, with 
the late Sir Henry Wood and the London Philharmonic 
Orchestra, he gave an outstanding performance of 
the Brahms Concerto. In the following year he gave a 
brilliant interpretation of the Tchaikovsky Concerto 
that drew from the critics many enthusiastic references 
to his dazzling technique and excellent tone. Since then 
he has played with the greater orchestras all over the 
country, frequently under the batons of such conductors 
as Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Malcolm 
Sargent and John Barbirolli, and has made several 
meritorious broadcasts. 


For sheer technique, Campoli has few equals in this 
country. People who had the pleasure of hearing the 
Kreisler arrangement of the Paganini Concerto in D at 
a Promenade concert in August, 1946, will for many 
years remember his wizardry. Even those who normally 
dislike "virtuoso music" of this type admitted that they 
had experienced a physical thrill, 

It might surprise some people to know that Campoli 
does not care for this sort of music personally: he 
dislikes these gymnastic displays of his remarkable 
technique. His real love is for Brahms his favourite 
composer, by the way whose Concerto means more 
to him than all the works of the "virtuoso composers" 
put together. He also adores Mozart, and to those who 
think that Mozart is easy to play he declares emphatically 
that the proper interpretation of the music of this genius 
demands superb artistry, and nothing less. He realizes 
that it is more or less his duty to give the public the sort 
of music they want him to play, but he wishes they 
would forget about this "brilliant technique" stuff for 
a while. He has no desire to be known as a musical 

Although the musical public generally have not had 
sufficient opportunity of appreciating it, Gampoli's 
particular style seems admirably suited to the works of 
Bach: hear him play that difficult unaccompanied 
Chaconne, for instance, or the exacting Adagio and 
Fugue from the Sonata in G minor, and you will 
probably agree that he might well become a Bach 
specialist. His refined tone and perfect intonation, and 
the delightful way in which he can caress a plaintive 
theme these qualities, together with the sparkle he 
can put into a vivacious movement, are those that mark 
the difference between a mediocre and an inspired 
execution of Bach's music. Incidentally, Campoli is the 
only violinist in England who has broadcast the Bach 
Chaconne four times. He is also remarkably good in the 
unaccompanied Partitas, of which he is extremely fond. 


Of Campoli' s many recordings, mention might be 
made of the Sonata in G minor by Tartini and the Bach- 
Franko Arioso (Decca), the Concerto No. i in G minor 
by Max Bruch and the Saint-Saens Introduction and 
Rondo Capriccioso, both of which were recorded with 
the London Symphony Orchestra under Walter Goehr 
for Columbia, and the same company's recording of 
Paganini's Moto Perpetuo. 

Campoli adheres to the Italian style of playing, 
although he regards Heifetz as the greatest living master 
of the strings. He uses all his fingers on the bow except 
in spiccato passages, when he finds that by lifting the 
fourth finger he can make the bow rebound better. 
He has used several fiddles during his career: for many 
years he preferred a Landolfi, then he changed to a 
J. B. Rogrius, but now he generally plays a Guadagnini, 
He uses metal-covered "Thomastik" strings, and prefers 
this Viennese make to any of the new types now being 
made in America. He has tried the new plastic-covered 
strings but dislikes them. 

As far as possible, Campoli sets aside a period of each 
day for practice, believing in the "daily dose" principle. 
Then there are sessions of study during which he 
write his programme notes, sometimes making use of 
his wonderful collection of over 2,000 gramophone 
records. These are played on a very fine electric 
reproducer that was built to his own specification. 

To conclude with a few personal notes: he is an 
exceptionally good tennis, bridge and snooker player. 
For several years he played table tennis in the London 
League and earned the reputation of being one of the 
most formidable players in the metropolitan area. 
His reading is almost entirely of books on music, 
bridge and tennis. 


THIS book might easily become monotonous if it 
dealt with only the more celebrated type of artist, so 
let us turn to youth for a diversion and meet a talented 
young violinist who, unless we are very much mistaken, 
is destined to become one of the leading virtuosi of 
to-morrow. Towards the end of 1946 that eminent 
conductor John Barbirolli described Raymond Cohen 
as "the most brilliantly gifted young English violinist 
I have heard for many a day", and as most musicians 
concede, Barbirolli is a man of vision. 

Manchester has given us some fine musicians, and 
Raymond Cohen is justly proud of having been born 
in that city in 1919. He had the advantage of a musical 
home, since both his parents were and still are 
passionately fond of music. His mother would never 
have met his father (a gifted amateur violinist) had 
music-making not brought them together. So it was 
not unnatural that Raymond should have taken to 
music at a very early age, as did his brother Cecil, 
who, incidentally, is now making an impression in 
Manchester as conductor of the orchestra run by the 
Adult Education Committee. 

Raymond was educated at Manchester Grammar 
School where, at the age of eleven, he caused a sensation 
by playing superbly at a school concert. As he rose in 
the school his thoughts turned more and more towards 
music as a possible career, and finally, his doubts about 
the precariousness of it were suppressed, if not ex- 
tinguished, when at the age of fifteen he won the 



Brodsky Scholarship to the Royal Manchester College 
of Music and in the same year was honoured with an 
engagement to play in the Halle Orchestra. Thus he 
earned the distinction of being the youngest member 
ever known in that orchestra since its foundation in 
1858. He was probably also the youngest member of 
a professional orchestra in England at that time. 

At the Royal Manchester College he became a 
pupil of Henry Hoist, and for four years studied under 
that very able violinist. He took the piano as his second 
study, and it should also be recorded here that Lionel 
Falkman was partly responsible for his musical education. 

While he was still a student he received a gratifyingly 
large number of engagements : he continued to play in 
the Halle Orchestra, and was only eighteen when he 
was chosen to lead the Blackpool Orchestra. Then he 
was soon to distinguish himself by taking part in chamber 
music at the Manchester Tuesday Midday Concerts, 
and gradually he was able to rise to local eminence 
as a soloist. He claims that when he was only twenty 
he had another distinction to his credit: apart from 
Yehudi Menuhin he was the only violinist to have 
played in this country three concertos at a single 
concert. These were the Bach E major, Mendelssohn 
and Brahms, which he performed with the Halle 
Orchestra on a memorable day in 1940. 

War, alas! has respect for neither art nor youth, 
and it was with very mixed feelings that Raymond 
Cohen received his calling-up papers it was actually 
only a few weeks after that triumphant accomplishment 
with the three concertos! The beauty and inspiration, 
the glamour and thrill, the joy of life that can be so 
rich and exciting when youth and talent and great 
music all combine all this was now overshadowed. 
One does not require much of an imagination to 
visualize the disruption in this young man's life; from 
the beauty of music-making in a cultured environment 


to the ugliness of barrack life, but Cohen took it all 
philosophically, and soon discovered that things have 
a way of sorting themselves out that there was quite a 
large number of men in the army who were concerned 
with something else besides "pools" and "the dogs", 
food and women. He found himself, in due course, a 
member of the Royal Corps of Signals, where his musical 
ability was recognized, and ft: was not long before he 
was playing the clarinet in the band. The speed with 
which he took to this instrument was really quite remark- 
able, and he might have become very fond of it if he 
had been given more interesting music to play. There 
were also some amusing incidents which, even if they 
jarred upon his musical sensitivity, did tend to make 
life more colourful. There was the occasion, for instance, 
when at the request of his bandmaster he transformed 
himself from third clarinettist to solo violinist and 
played a battered version of the Mendelssohn Violin 
Concerto with military band accompaniment! 

Cohen used to ponder a good deal upon army life 
and the strange ideas possessed by some of those with 
whom he had to rub shoulders, but found as most 
Englishmen do sooner or later that the cultivation of 
a sense of humour is the best means of preserving one's 
sanity in these c * enlightened ' 5 times. His greatest difficulty 
was in finding somewhere to practise the long-suffering 
fiddle that accompanied him from station to station. 
The recreation rooms provided by the military authori- 
ties were generally reverberating with jazz, so in order 
to keep up his vitally-important practice, Cohen would 
go out into the fields or, in wet weather, take his fiddle 
to the bathroom, or some less uplifting place, draw forth 
tattered leaves of Bach, Brahms, Beethoven or Mozart, 
and resolutely prepare himself for a career in the 
wonderful post-war world that he was hearing so much 

Such stoicism surely deserved a rich reward, and it 
came when, while still a soldier, he won the coveted 


International Carl Flesch Award in 1945. This new 
competition is open to violinists of any nationality 
under thirty years of age, who are required to play a 
concerto and an unaccompanied Bach sonata. It is 
organised by the Guildhall School of Music, London, 
and the adjudicators in that particular year were 
Edric Cundell (the Principal of the School), Jean 
Pougnet, Albert Sammons and Max Rostal. 

When at last he was demobilized after six years in. 
the army Cohen was delighted to find that musical 
folk had not forgotten his early successes, and it was 
therefore a pleasant surprise when the difficulties of 
re-establishing himself proved less arduous than he 
had anticipated. John Barbirolli was one of the first 
to welcome him back with an engagement to appear 
as a soloist with the Halle Orchestra. Then again, the 
terms of the Carl Flesch Award made ^it possible for 
him to play the Mendelssohn Concerto with the London 
Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by George Weldon, 
at the Stoll Theatre, London, on 5 May, 1946, Engage- 
ments to appear as a soloist with the London Symphony 
Orchestra, the BBC and other orchestras soon followed, 
and so did various opportunities to prove his worth 
as a chamber musician by giving sonata recitals in 
various parts of the country. It might be said here 
that his interest in chamber music is such that in order 
to widen his knowledge and appreciation of it he has 
made himself very proficient on the viola as well, 
though he has no intention of playing it as a solo 
instrument in public. 

Cohen's repertoire is now quite large, and covers most 
of the various "schools 35 of music. In it we find about 
forty concertos and a suggestion that he is specially 
attracted towards the works of Brahms, Elgar, Sibelius, 
Bloch, Busoni, Barber, Glazounov, Prokofiev and that 
talented young Soviet composer Khatchaturian: an 
interesting list for an artist under thirty. Of our 


contemporary English composers it might be added that 
he specially admires William Walton and Benjamin 

Having spoken of specialization, one should point 
out that Cohen does not believe in specialization if it 
means the exclusion of other types of music. He does 
not favour programmes that give too much of the work 
of a single composer, and definitely dislikes whole even- 
ings of the music of any one man, for he believes in the 
significance of contrast, and goes so far as to hold that 
a true, well-balanced musician should be interested in 
all types of music including the so-called light music 
and even ' 'swing' 5 . It is the appreciation of all combined, 
he declares, that makes the right sort of musician. A 
good instrumentalist should be able to adapt himself 
readily to solo, chamber, orchestral or even dance 
band work. 

Cohen is a firm believer in the principle of listening 
to the great in order to become great yourself: he spends 
hours listening intently to the recordings of Kreisler, 
Heifetz, Szigeti and the late Emanuel Feuermann, and 
rarely misses an opportunity of hearing any of the 
leading violinists in person, or on the radio. He is also 
convinced that the violinist can learn a great deal from 
the singer, especially in the art of phrasing and producing 
a good tone. He particularly delights in the singing of 
Gigli, Kirsten Flagstad and Tauber. As far as sheer artistry 
is concerned, he associates Tauber with Kreisler. 
Cohen does not sing himself, but he says that if he had 
a voice he would know how to sing! He did a little in 
an Army male voice choir during the war, and that, 
he says, was the end of what little voice he had. He has 
a feeling that the Americans, especially, have an unusual 
ability to combine all the good qualities in^ singing. 

His entire approach to violin-playing is based on 
the teaching of Carl Flesch, who was, he believes, the 
greatest violin teacher of all time. He is exceptionally 


loose-fingered, and is not absolutely bound to practise 
every day to keep up to concert standard: he can, for 
instance, go for a week's holiday and scarcely notice 
the lapse in practice. Like most good violinists, he 
believes that chamber music offers the finest training 
for any string-player: it is indispensable to the soloist 
and of the utmost help to the orchestral player, since 
it makes one listen to the other parts, which is the basis 
of all good ensemble playing. Cohen is also interested 
in the art of improvisation, and for that reason is an 
admirer of Artie Shaw! Conducting, too, appeals to 
him, and he feels it to be not at all unlikely that in later 
years he might aspire to a baton. "Nerves" do not 
worry him, but he says he is conscious that they are 

Cohen's greatest difficulty at the present time is to 
find a suitable fiddle. Whenever he has an important 
public engagement he is obliged to borrow an instru- 
ment, for his own is quite inadequate. And that 
explains why he is so rarely in his hotel when on tour: 
he spends every available hour in searching music and 
antique shops in the hope that someday he will pick up 
a Strad for a few pounds! He claims to have scoured 
more pawn shops than any other violinist in England. 

Tennis is his principal recreation, but he can also 
play a wicked game of snooker when he is in the mood 
for it. His interest in dance music has already been 
noted, but he never goes to dances. "Of course," he 
adds, "if the right sort of partner came along that would 
make all the difference, and then I probably should!" 


MANY years have passed since the recitals of Elman 
caused a sensation in the popular press, and now that 
the radio has provided good music on tap in almost 
every home it is doubtful whether any violinist will 
again be able to stir audiences of thousands to such a 
pitch of excitement as did this world-famous artist in 
the early decades of the present century. We have now 
become accustomed to a very high standard of playing 
and are less inclined to heap extravagant praise upon 
the heads of celebrities for superb playing of the more 
popular classics. Nevertheless, the name of Elman will 
take a prominent place in the history of violin- playing. 

He was born in the Russian town of Talnoye on 
20 January 1892. His father, a Jewish teacher, was an 
enthusiastic amateur violinist and gave him a small 
violin when he reached the age of four. This started 
him on the road to fame, for within a year he had made 
such a favourable impression upon the Countess Orosova 
that she was convinced he would become a world- 
famous violinist. She offered to adopt him and give 
him the finest musical education that money could 
buy, but stipulated that he should renounce his Jewish 
faith and become a Christian. His father, however, 
would not agree to this condition, and made up his 
mind to keep the matter of his son's education in his 
own hands, despite his very limited means. Great 
sacrifices had to be made for the boy, and Elman has 
always felt deeply indebted to his father, who, he 
declares, did far more for him than his means permitted- 



At the age of twelve, Mischa Elman was admitted 
to the Imperial School of Music at Odessa and became 
a pupil of Alexander Fidelmann. At about the same 
time his father took him to Berlin to fulfil a concert 
engagement, andTaxTincident occurred that very nearly 
"put an endToTKeTlad's career altogether. They stayed 
at a small hotel that was lit by gas : a great novelty in 
those days, especially for one who had come from a 
Russian town in which illumination was provided 
almost entirely by oil lamps and candles. When he 
went to bed on the night of his arrival, Mischa simply 
blew out the small gas jet. If his bedroom window had 
not been left open the result might have been fatal. As 
it happened, he awoke in the early morning feeling 
horribly sick and light-headed, and it was feared that 
he would have to cancel the concert. After lunch, 
however, he felt rather better, but when the time for 
the concert came, he was still far from well. Determined 
to fulfil his contract, he went on to the platform rather 
giddily and started to play. He got through the 
Tchaikovsky Concerto and played the Bach Chaconne 
superbly, but just before the end of the last item on the 
programme he collapsed. 

In these days it is hard to realize that until Elman 
got to Odessa he had never even seen a pianoforte. 
When he played his first concerto he had never heard 
a proper symphony orchestra! Yet when Leopold 
Auer visited the Imperial School shortly after Elman's 
first term he found him already an accomplished 
musician, even though the lad had been so nervous 
when first asked to play before this famous violinist that 
he had let his bow fall to the ground. 

Auer then told Elman's father that if he would 
bring the lad to St. Petersburg, he would take him under 
his personal supervision. This opportunity of becoming 
a pupil of so famous an artist was not to be missed, but 
a difficulty arose immediately owing to the authorities' 
refusal to allow Elman's father to reside in the city. 


Various petitions were made in vain, and finally Auer 
wrote to the authorities himself, saying that he would 
resign his position at the Conservatoire if they refused 
residence to the father of "the most talented pupil 
ever offered to me". 

Elman soon became Auer's favourite pupil, and the 
great teacher made up his mind that the boy should 
appear in public at an important concert as soon as 
an opportunity presented itself. At about that time 
another brilliant violinist, Vecsey, was visiting St. 
Petersburg and causing quite a sensation. To the 
amazement of his fellow professors, Auer calmly an- 
nounced one day that he had a pupil who was better 
than Vecsey; and a chance to satisfy their curiosity 
came about a month later when Auer was taken ill 
just before one of his most important concerts. He 
therefore sent the thirteen-year-old Elman to take his 
place, and to the astonishment of all, the lad played 
the Mendelssohn Concerto and Paganini's Moto Perpetuo 
almost as well as his renowned master could have done. 
The audience refused to leave the hall until he had 
played no less than half-a-dozen encores. 

Elman was still only a boy when Auer arranged for 
him to play with the famous Golonne Orchestra during 
their visit to Pavlovsk. Knowing Edouard Golonne's 
hatred of child prodigies, Auer did not tell him Elman's 
age when making the arrangements, and not until the 
famous conductor saw young Mischa waiting to go on 
the platform did he realize that he had engaged a child. 
He was furious, and flatly refused to continue with the 
programme. Frantic attempts were made to assure 
him that Elman had the recommendation of Auer 
himself and was well capable of doing justice to the 
music, but Colonne was adamant, " I have never yet 
played with a child, and I refuse to start now," he 
retorted. So Elman had to play with piano accompani- 
ment while conductor and orchestra sat listening. The 
quality of his performance may be measured by 


Colonne's action as soon as he finished playing: the 
eminent conductor went straight up to him and said: 
"My friend, I apologise. Will you honour me by playing 
with my orchestra in Paris?" A few months later 
Elman scored a gigantic success with the Golonne 
Orchestra in the Mendelssohn Concerto. 

Such were the triumphs of Elman's childhood. 
Much could be written of his performances before the 
various crowned heads of Europe, and so forth, but that 
would make tedious reading. The only royal personage 
that need be mentioned here is the Grand Duke of 
Mecklenburg-Strelitz, one of the Tsar's relations, who 
took a great interest in Elman for many years, and 
presented him with a valuable Amati fiddle. 

Elman's English debut took place at the Queen's 
Hall on 21 March, 1905 soon after his thirteenth 
birthday. The reception given to this bushy-haired, 
blue-eyed boy can be imagined from the report in the 
April issue of The Strad: 

"This young violinist, who has already created a 
perfect furore on the continent, has no reason to 
complain of want of appreciation on the part of a 
critical London audience; and his first appearance 
in England , . . was a veritable triumph. From the 
moment he stepped on to the platform until he had 
played his last encore at 11.20 p.m. (and even then 
the public seemed to want some more) his success 
in this country was an assured thing. He tackled 
the terrific difficulties of Tchaikovsky's D major 
Concerto as though they were a mere bagatelle, 
and although Auer said it was almost unplayable, 
and Hanslick (who ought to have known better) 
called it all sorts of dirty names, this little fellow 
literally 1 'waltzed round it', made light of its technical 
pitfalls, and gave a rendering of it so thoroughly in 
accord with the spirit in which it was written, that 
*Not literally, one hopes. 

Gramophone Co. 



the audience literally rose at him. . . . His playing of 
Beethoven's Romance in G ... was deliciously tender 
and sympathetic. . . . When I left the hall the crowd 
was still clamouring (somewhat thoughtlessly) for 
another display." 

Incidentally, Elman's manager had a summons 
served upon him for allowing a boy under the prescribed 
age to play in public at an evening performance without 
a magistrate's order, but it was afterwards withdrawn. 
For the next eight or nine years, Elman spent much 
of his time in England, and as older music-lovers will 
recall, became a public favourite. With Caruso and 
Melba he performed before King Edward, and when 
His Majesty asked him what he thought of London, he 
replied that, best of all, he liked talking to the policemen* 
This was, of course, long before the subject was made 
the basis of a joke. 

A distinguished American musician, after hearing 
Elman play at a charity concert at Covent Garden in 
December 1905, caused a sensation by declaring publicly 
that the boy had convinced him of the authenticity of 
the doctrine of reincarnation, since it was obvious to 
him that such playing as his could be explained only 
by the fact that Elman must have been a great violinist 
in a previpus existence! 

If we discount all the extravagant reports we still 
find that sober musical opinion was very favourably 
impressed. In the Musical Times of July 1906, we 
read : 

"Mischa Elman, the wonderful boy violinist, 
whose readings are so matured that he would seem 
to have very little to learn, played at the Queen's 
Hall on 29 May and 1 1 June. On the latter occasion, 
supported by the London Symphony Orchestra, 
he was heard for the first time here in the Brahms 
Concerto in D, interpreting the solo part with 
astonishing depth of expression and technical 


There can be no doubt that his technical displays 
were quite extraordinary for a lad of his age : his spring 
bowing, double stoppings, pizzicato* and flying staccatos 
were most fascinating to anybody with even a slight 
knowledge of violin playing, and he always drew a 
delightfully warm tone from his Amati that was most 
pleasing to the ear. 

Oscar Hammerstein persuaded Elman to make his 
first visit to America towards the end of 1908, and it 
was proposed that for his debut in New York he should 
give a two-hour programme accompanied by the 
Russian Symphony Orchestra. The management on 
the other side of the Atlantic took exception to this, 
however, and declared that no American audience 
would tolerate two hours of "unadulterated violin- 
playing". They acquiesced eventually, however, and 
in due course discovered that the audience concerned 
not only "tolerated" the performance but demanded no 
less than twenty-two more. Reporting the initial 
concert, the Tribune said: 

"Elman's tone is large and full. His notes were 
produced with a precise faith to the pitch that was 
comforting to hear. ... In the double stopping, his 
octaves, and especially the rapid passages, the 
violinist reached a lofty standard of proficiency, while 
his cantilena was admirable, full and sustained." 

Elman made his home in England until the outbreak 
of the Great War in August, 10)14. By that time so 
many thousands of "Elmanites" would flock to his 
recitals that only the Albert Hall could cope with the 
demand for seats. His presence had also been demanded 
at Buckingham Palace on several occasions, for it was 
well known that Queen Alexandra was especially fond 
of his playing. 

It is perhaps worth recording that Tsar Nicholas II 
issued a special order exempting Mischa Elman from 
any form of military service on account of his great 


value as an artist. Elman received a personal letter 
from the Tsar which begged him to keep out of all 
danger because "Russia would not wish harm to come 
to one of her great geniuses," 

In America, Elman's fame increased year by year, 
and in 1923 he became a citizen of the United States. 
He married an American woman, Helen Katten, two 
years later. His wife's wedding gift to him was the 
superb Madame Recamier Strad, reputed to be worth 
at least 10,000. It is dated 

Chamber music had always appealed strongly to 
this distinguished violinist, although during the first 
twenty years of his career he took little part in it 
publicly. The Elman Quartet was not founded until 
1924, but then he proved his ability in this sphere ^of 
musical activity by subduing his outstanding personality 
in a manner that would have done credit even to a 
veteran player: he never outshone his partners as so 
often happens when a soloist leads a quartet. According 
to one critic, the performance of the Mozart B-fiat 
Quartet at their first concert was "positively thrilling'*. 
Their recording of part of the Beethoven Emperor 
Quartet, together with the familiar Andante Gantabile 
from Tchaikovsky's Quartet Opus 11 (ELM.V.) are still 
"best sellers" in this country, 

Well over two million of Elman's gramophone 
records have been sold, and the favourites in this country 
are light solos such as the Wieniawski Legmde 9 Opus 17, 
Massenet's Thais Meditation, Tchaikovsky's MSlodie, 
Opus 42 No. 3> and that ever-popular excerpt Le Gygw 
(Saint-Saens), all of which are H.M.V, 

It would be very wrong, nevertheless, to conclude 
from this that Elman's repertoire consists principally of 
the more popular classics. It includes an impeding 
range of the finest compositions for the violin, and his 
interest in contemporary music was recognized recently 
1 Elman is also the owner of the Joachim Strad. 


by the Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu, who dedica- 
ted a new concerto to him. Elman gave the first 
performance of this at the Carnegie Hall, New York, 
with the Boston Symphony Orchestra directed by 
Koussevitzky in January 1944. His masterly interpreta- 
tion of this difficult work was acclaimed enthusiastically 
by the critics, and he afterwards made a recording of 
it. Another outstanding performance of this work was 
given by him at the Berkshire (U.S.A.) Musical Festival 
in the summer of 1946. 

Elman's concerts in America now^ seem to have 
become something of a national institution, and reports 
of them, such as the one he gave in 1946 when he 
played the Bruch Concerto No. i at the^Lewisohn 
Stadium, suggest that he has lost none of his amazing 
technical precision. His Carnegie Hall concert in the 
same year created a furore. 

The outstanding feature of his playing is not the 

technical mastery of his instrument, however, nor yet 

the satisfying breadth of tone, but that spiritual Hebraic 

quali^tha^^ seem to bg_akle 

Jo putlailjpusic of a somgrelhood. He has, on theother 

TiandTagift for boisterous vivace which, combined with 

an ability to make a really remarkable technical display, 

can prove quite irresistible. There ^ is still a certain 

amount of Russian temperament in his style. 

Elman's home in New York is a favourite rendezvous 
for his friends, for his "musical evenings" are^a great 
delight to those who have the privilege of joining him 
for a trio or quartet. Good music and lively conversation 
are enjoyed in turn, and everything invariably centres 
around the subject of this sketch: a short and rather 
stocky figure, round-faced and short-sighted. He has 
a tremendous sense of humour, and is more tolerant and 
kindly than many of the fashionable musicians in 
America to-day. Hear him talking about jazz, for 
instance, and you will find that he is not at all alarmed 


by its effect upon the rising generation. He believes it 
is useless to protest against it, for it is the natural 
expression of the youth of to-day, and provides an outlet 
for their energy. Some of it is very bad music, of course, 
but there is much that has a certain merit of its own, 
and the opportunities it affords for improvisation are by 
no means inconsiderable. Elman feels that "swing" is 
bound to exert a strong influence upon serious music 
of the future, in fact we can already see the effect of 
it in the work of many of our younger composers. 

On the subject of musical criticism, Elman is often 
outspoken because he feels that one can over-develop 
the critical faculty to such an extent that one loses the 
ability to enjoy music. The critic who concentrates 
upon observing every little fault in a performance 
never enjoys it, in fact he is so engrossed in detail that 
he does not really hear the work as a whole. Music 
can bring pleasure and satisfaction to the emotions even 
when there are faults that offend the intellect. 

As these opinions suggest, Elman is an unusually 
placid musician; the very antithesis of the petty, 
" temperamental 3 * virtuoso. He does not fly into rages, 
nor does he tear at what remains of his hair whenever 
some trifle annoys him. Those who have had the honour 
of accompanying him on the piano agree that it is 
easier to work with him than almost any other famous 
executant in America to-day. 

Finally, Elman still takes an interest in the welfare 
of his native land, although he has grown to love 
America and all that it stands for. When the Russians 
began the restoration of the Tchaikovsky Museum at 
Klin he sent them a complete set of his recordings of 
the great Russian composer's music. He hopes that the 
day is not far off when America, Soviet Russia and 
Britain will work together in perfect concord, and that 
there will then be a free exchange of ideas between 
the artists of all countries. 


A YOUNG violinist of international reputation, 
who has in recent years made a very favourable impres- 
sion both in Britain and America, is Szymon Goldberg: 
a sensitive artist equipped with excellent technique and 
a real understanding of the classics. The series of 
recitals he gave in the Third Programme during the 
late autumn of 1947, in which he played the six 
unaccompanied violin sonatas of Bach, gave the more 
discriminating listener ample evidence of his ability. 

He is of Polish origin, having been born at 
Wloclawek, near Warsaw, in 1909, son of a mill-owner. 
He was one of five brothers, all of whom became 
fairly proficient on some sort of musical instrument, 
so there was plenty of music-making in the home to 
stimulate his innate love of the art. 

When he was very small, Szymon Goldberg was 
given a mandoline, and he displayed his flair for music 
on this instrument with such enthusiasm that his parents 
lost no time in buying him a violin which, they decided, 
would provide him with greater opportunities to develop 
his skill. At the age of seven he was sent to a local 
teacher, and within a year had progressed sufficiently 
to be accepted for training by Czaplinski, an able 
teacher who was a pupil of the eminent Ottokar Sevcik. 
It was Czaplinski who turned the lad into a sound 
musician and made his parents realize that he had 
immediate possibilities in the concert hall. So Szymon 
was sent to Warsaw to study with Michalowicz, a 
teacher with a reputation for the grooming of infant 



prodigies, and at the age of nine, he made his 

Fortunately, Szymon's parents did not allow his 
gifts to be exploited at the expense of his musical 
education, and instead of permitting him to be taken 
about the country to earn money by charming old 
ladies with pretty little solos they sent him to Berlin 
to study with Carl Flesch, and for the next seven years 
he worked with this world-famous violinist and (during 
the master's absences) with his assistant, Richard Harpzer. 

When he was twelve he played the Paganini D 
major Concerto and the Bach E major at a most 
successful public concert, and within two years had the 
honour of appearing as soloist with the Berlin Phil- 
harmonic Orchestra, with whom he played the same 
two works and one of the Joachim concertos in a single 
programme. This memorable concert firmly established 
him as a virtuoso, and he began to receive offers of 
engagements from all parts of Europe. Most of the 
travelling he did during the next two years, however, 
was in Germany. 

At sixteen he was offered the leadership of the 
Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, and realizing what 
a splendid opportunity this was to any musician with 
still a lot to learn, he accepted it, and for the next four 
years led that fine ensemble under many of the world's 
greatest guest conductors. 

Goldberg was barely twenty when he was invited 
to accept the leadership of the Berlin Philharmonic 
Orchestra, which in those days was considered by 
many critics to be the finest orchestra in the world. 
At first he was co-leader with Henry Hoist, but after 
a while assumed sole responsibility, and for a further 
period of four years held this important post under 
Dr. Furtwangler. 

During his years as an orchestral leader, Goldberg 
gave many notable solo performances in most of the 
larger musical centres of Europe, and was associated 


-with Hindemith and Feuermann in a remarkably 

fine trio. Many connoisseurs of chamber music will 

recall their visits to England, when they recorded for 

Goldberg's first visit to America was in 1938, when 
he made his debut at Carnegie Hall. A tour of the 
United States was planned during the early years of 
the Second World War, but unfortunately he was in 
Java when the Japanese arrived, and was taken prisoner, 
so the projected tour did not materialise. 

He and his wife were interned in Java for two-and- 
a-half years; an experience that he is not likely to 
forget. The story of his arrest is rather interesting 
because, apart from the personal angle, it concerns 
the rescue of his precious Stradivarius (the "Liegnitz", 
dated 1711, which was originally the property of a 
Silesian nobleman). The Japanese military police 
came for them one night, gave them scarcely time to 
dress, and after taking them away for the usual inter- 
rogation, proceeded to seal up the house in which they 
had been living. A friendly neighbour watched this 
process with interest and observed that one small 
window had escaped the attention of the soldiers. At 
great personal risk he climbed in through this window, 
found the Strad (which had not attracted the attention 
of the police, probably because of its well-worn case) 
and threw it over a nearby fence into the garden of the 
doctor who lived next door. That was all he dared to 
do. Fortunately the doctor was a keen amateur 
violinist, and on finding so valuable a fiddle in his 
garden guessed that it had been deposited there by 
someone who was anxious that it should not fall into 
the hands of the Japanese. So the kindly physician put 
it into a place of safety and eventually had the pleasure 
of returning it to its grateful owner. Goldberg's various 
bows, and the whole of his music library, were never 


During those weary years of internment Szymon 
Goldberg played a great deal of music entirely from 
memory for the pleasure of his fellow internees. He 
will always remember the incredible ignorance and 
suspicion shown by the Japanese whenever he was 
interviewed by them. They had absorbed even the 
silliest absurdities of the Nazi propaganda with a child- 
like faith in its accuracy, and repeatedly demanded of 
him his number in the international Jewish underground 
movement of which they were certain he was a 

Soon after his release he received from Singapore 
a cable sent by Erik Chisholm, who was organising 
musical activities for ENSA in that great sea-port, 
inviting him to appear there as a soloist with an orchestra 
that had been assembled to give concerts to Service 
personnel. This gave him a welcome opportunity to 
resume his profession, and for two months he visited 
camps of soldiers, sailors and airmen, playing varied 
programmes consisting chiefly of the more popular 

Then followed a four-months' tour of Australia, 
after which he returned to Europe and spent much of 
his time in Great Britain. As this book goes to press 
he is planning another extensive tour of the United 

Although he has made a considerable reputation 
in the classics as a recitalist, concerto-soloist and chamber 
musician, Goldberg has also won the esteem of many 
contemporary composers for his sympathetic interpreta- 
tion of their works. He particularly admires Hindemith, 
not merely because of his friendship with that composer, 
but because of the rich variety and true originality 
that is to be found in his compositions. 

He uses American strings: aluminium-covered A and 
D, silver-covered G, and the usual steel E. The only 
nylon strings he has tried up to the time of writing have 


not impressed him very favourably, but he is interested 
in the experiments that are being made with them. 

Szymon Goldberg was married in 1931 to Anna 
Maria Manasse, who for some years was known as a 
mezzo-soprano in chamber opera chiefly in Germanyr 
She was trained by Madame Schnabel (wife of Artur 
Schnabel, the eminent pianist) but rarely sings in public 
nowadays, for much of her time is now taken up with 


T O the jaded playing that one so often hears nowadays, 
the art of Frederick Grinke forms a perfect contrast. 
Here is a young violinist of undoubted skill who puts 
every ounce of his enthusiasm into the work he loves. 
It is obvious to anyone who watches him closely on the 
platform that he enjoys every minute of his playing: 
he seems to perform as much for his own satisfaction 
as for the pleasure of his audience. 

He was born in Winnipeg, Canada, on 8 August, 
1911, and started learning to play the violin when he 
was about nine years of age, his master being John 
Waterhouse, a well-known Canadian teacher. An 
unusually sharp and adaptable lad, he made rapid 
progress and was soon playing in public. He could 
not have been more than eleven or twelve when he 
made his first broadcast, and this was soon followed by 
more public engagements, especially when at the age 
of fifteen he formed a trio. 

It should be emphasized, however, that those early 
years were not without their difficulties. Money had 
to be found to buy a violin suitable for public perform- 
ances, to pay his teacher, to furnish him with an ever- 
growing library and so forth, but this ambitious boy 
was not easily deterred: to supplement his musical 
earnings he obtained a part-time job with a local 
tradesman, whom he assisted after school hours, and 
made himself financially independent. 

He continued to study and win prizes in local 
competitions until, at the age of sixteen, he won not only 



the Matthew Scholarship for Manitoba but the Associa- 
ted Board Scholarship for the whole of Canada, which 
enabled him to come to London to study at the Royal 
Academy of Music. He became a pupil of Rowsby 
Woof, and soon began taking almost every prize for solo 
and chamber music playing that came his way. Sir 
Henry Wood was of course quick to observe the promise 
in this vivacious youth, and chose him to lead the Royal 
Academy Orchestra when he was only in his second 

Grinke was still a student at the Academy when he 
became the second violinist in the Kutcher String 
Quartet, with whom he was associated for over six 
years and gained experience of the greatest value. He 
also formed a piano trio with two fellow-students, 
Florence Hooton and Dorothy Manley. In later years 
Kendall Taylor replaced Miss Manley, and although 
the trio has now been disbanded, Grinke and Taylor 
do a great deal of sonata-playing in public. 

When he was twenty-one, Grinke went to Switzerland 
for a whole summer and studied with Adolph Busch at 
the latter's beautiful house outside Basle. He has many 
happy memories of that delightful course; of looking 
down upon the gaily-illuminated city at night from the 
lovely gardens of Busch's house; of long walks amidst 
inspiring scenery and swimming in the open-air pool. 
Busch always used to stress the importance of keeping 
fit in order to stand the strain of a musical career. 

A few years later he went for further lessons to Carl 
Flesch, both in London and at Spa, Belgium. Students 
from all over the world made up the classes of this 
master: some came to play, others to listen and gain 
experience from the mistakes of their fellows. Many 
violinists who have since risen to fame were to be found 
there: Ginette Neveu, for instance, and Ida Haendel. 
Grinke will never forget how nervous he felt at those 
classes. He was then receiving important public 
engagements he was to play that very season at a 


Promenade concert but nothing was so great an ordeal 
as playing to Carl Flesch before such a critical audience. 

Grinke was still only twenty-one when he was 
approached by Sir Hamilton Harty, who had just been 
appointed conductor of the London Symphony Orches- 
tra, and asked if he would accept the leadership of that 
body if it were offered to him. He had always longed 
to lead a full symphony orchestra and was very excited 
at this enquiry, but the directors eventually decided 
that he was too young for such a responsible position, 
and the offer was never made. A few years later he 
received invitations to lead several other leading 
symphony orchestras, but as he was then well on the 
way to establishing himself as a solo artist he refused 
them all. The one leadership he did accept, however, 
was that of the Boyd Neel Orchestra; that small but 
highly-trained string orchestra which has established 
an enviable reputation for itself not only in this country 
but in many of the larger musical centres of Europe, 
His first appearance with them was at the Salzburg 
Festival in 1937, when they gave the first performance 
of the Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge by Benjamin 
Britten. He always enjoyed playing with this orchestra 
because, being small, it allowed more opportunity for 
individual effort: it was more like a chamber ensemble. 
With them he toured all over Austria, Holland, 
Portugal, Australia and New Zealand, and he has 
recently resigned only because he wishes to concentrate 
entirely upon solo work. 

Frederick Grinke is now a professor of the Royal 
Academy of Music, and has had the honour of being 
elected a Fellow. He has no eccentric notions about 
teaching, but feels very strongly that one should not 
play the violin unless one really enjoys doing so: ^an 
audience can always tell whether an artist is playing 
because he really loves his art ^or merely because he 
wants his fee. Another point is that he firmly believes 


in every pupil developing his own individuality, and 
not slavishly imitating any particular "ideal". "No 
pupil should be an exact copy of his master/' hie 
declares, "otherwise the art would make little progress." 

In 1940 Grinke volunteered for the Royal Air Force 
and became a member of the R.A.F. Symphony 
Orchestra, which was conducted by Wing Commander 
O'Donnell and had in its ranks many of Britain's 
leading musicians. With them he travelled many 
thousands of miles, particularly during their visit to 
America, when he frequently appeared as a soloist. 
On that tour he often had to practise on the train, 
generally in a small compartment at the end of the 
corridor in which the orchestra's instruments were 
kept. Anybody who has travelled extensively in America 
will know what that means! He once had to prepare 
a difficult work while the train was speeding across the 
plains of Texas and through the Rocky Mountains. It 
was swaying from side to side and every few moments 
would lurch violently, so that Grinke, who was balanced 
with one foot in the corridor and the other among the 
instrument-cases, was kept in a state of constant anxiety 
lest his precious instrument, or its bow, should be 
damaged. He also collected a record number of bruises 
on that tour, which ended very dramatically for him > 
since he was flown across the Atlantic for the sole 
purpose of playing the Bax concerto at the Albert Hall. 
There was something rather thrilling about swooping- 
nearly half-way across the world in wartime, too solely 
because he was wanted in London to play a single 

Another outstanding recollection of his service with, 
the R.A.F. Orchestra is of the occasion when they were 
flown to Potsdam for the Three-Power Conference. 
The string section played at a dinner given by Mr. 
Churchill in honour of Stalin and President Truman. 
Many of the famous generals were present. 


When he was demobilized in 1945 ke returned to 
the concert platform and resumed his musical adven- 
tures, which culminated in 1947 with an extensive 
tour of Australia and New Zealand, with Grinke acting 
as both leader of the Boyd Neel Orchestra and soloist. 
His experiences on this tour would fill a book, and he 
has vivid^ memories of sight-seeing, excited audiences 
and seemingly endless travel. He was delighted to find 
a great deal of genuine musical talent in Australia and 
New, Zealand : some of the younger players were excep- 
tionally gifted. All the arts seemed to be flourishing, 
especially painting, for which there was apparently almost 
more enthusiasm than for music. He could not help 
observing that there was the keenest interest in the 
works of Australasian artists. 

On his return journey Grinke visited the Fiji 
Islands, and as soon as his identity became known to 
the principal medical officer he found himself being 

Sirsuaded to play for the edification of native musicians. 
e was taken to some of their villages and feted in a 
truly remarkable fashion. He was given the honour of 
drinking some curious concoction that tasted exactly 
like a solution of stomach powder but had an effect 
rather less salutary, and he was presented with what 
appeared to be rather crude tapestries. He now has 
them displayed in his London flat: curious cloth-like 
affairs of a texture resembling an inexperienced cook's 
attempt to do something with dried egg, and stencilled 
with what looks suspiciously like native versions of 
certain rude words. 

Grinke is well known not only as a broadcaster 
his playing has been transmitted from several countries, 
including Australia whence he broadcast the Bax 
concerto but also for his many recordings for Decca, 
His piano trio, for instance, who enjoyed many 
successes in this country and abroad, have recorded 
the Pkantasie Trio and the Trio No. 3 in E by John 


Ireland, the Fantasy Trio of Frank Bridge and the 
Beethoven Trio in E-flat. 

His solo recordings for the same company include 
the Vaughan Williams Lark Ascending and the Concerto 
Accademico (accompanied by the Boyd Neel Orchestra), 
a number of minor but delightful works by Dvorak for 
that composer's centenary, Purcell sonatas with Jean 
Pougnet and Dr. Boris Ord, the Mozart duos with 
Watson Forbes (viola), and a variety of solos accompanied 
by Ivor Newton, including works by Ivor Gurney, 
Alan Richardson, Lilli Boulanger, Smetana, Rach- 
maninoff, B. J. Dale and Novacek. His most recent 
recordings have been of the Mozart Concerto in A, the 
Sonata in D minor of John Ireland (with the composer 
at the piano), the Purcell G minor Sonata (with Arnold 
Goldsbrough), and the Bach Brandenburg Concertos - 
made by the Boyd Neel Orchestra, in which he has 
played all the solo parts. 

Grinke's repertoire is considerable, and is being 
extended very rapidly. It includes the works of many 
modern composers chiefly British with whom it has 
been his privilege to associate, frequently in the perform- 
ance of their music: Benjamin Britten, Frank Bridge, 
John McEwen, Edmund Rubbra, Lennox Berkeley, 
Arthur Bliss, Alan Rawsthorne, Alan Bush, B. J. Dale, 
York Bowen, Theodore Holland, Arnold Fulton, 
Howard Ferguson, and Arnold van WycL It is one of 
his ambitions to record the Bax concerto, by the way, 
and it is quite likely that it will be fulfilled before this 
book appears in print. 

In passing, it might be added that Grinke has 
already made an entry into the film world: he played 
the solo violin part in the British film The Shop at Sly Corner, 
which used extracts from the Mendelssohn Concerto. 

Considering his age, Grinke's interpretative powers 
are quite remarkable: he can always be relied upon to 
play with the understanding of a scholar yet with the 

P. W. Sckimdt 


Howard Coster 



verve of youth. His sound musicianship has given 
Mm an assurance that many an artist would not gain 
until he had passed the age of forty-five, and it is 
unfortunately just at that age that so many of them start 
to decline, generally through physical weariness. Grinke 
has all the attributes of a true artist, and we have every 
reason for anticipating great things from him now that 
he has taken the risk and it is a risk in these days of 
calamitous economics of devoting himself exclusively 
to solo work. 

He possesses a J. B. Rogerius dated 1686, from 
which he draws a warm, substantial tone, employing 
aluminium-covered D and A, and the usual silver- 
covered G and steel E strings, but he frequently uses 
a Strad dated 1718 which has been lent to him by 
The Royal Academy of Music. 

A stimulating personality, Grinke is broad-minded 
and has no fads in music. He enjoys almost every type 
of music, even jazz when he is in the mood for it. He 
considers Duke Ellington's band to be one of the best, 
and has always an inclination to listen to negro bands, 
which he finds very fascinating. 

He was married in 1942 to Dorothy Sirr Sheldon, 
and has one son, Paul, who shares his father's enthusiasm 
for a cine-camera. Grinke has made many little films 
on his travels, and is very proud of Ms "shots" of fine 
scenes in distant parts of the globe. He is also quite a 
theatre addict, by the way, and reads chiefly biography. 
Outdoors, he is very fond of swimming. 


DURING the past ten years or so we have had the 
pleasure of watching Ida Haendel develop in musical 
virtuosity from an extremely promising child prodigy 
to one of the most brilliant violinists of the day. Com- 
paratively few of the child prodigies have made such 
steady progress: the majority have become so blighted 
by early success that they have never come anywhere 
near artistic maturity. It has therefore been all the more 
gratifying to be able to witness this continual growth 
of artistry as Miss Haendel has come before us season 
after season. 

She was born at Gholm, Poland, on 15 January, 
1923, and took to the violin before she was four years 
old. Her father, an artist, was (and still is) a keen 
amateur musician and had no difficulty in perceiving that 
his daughter possessed an unusually good ear for music. 
So at the age of six, Ida was sent to a competent 
musician for instruction. She had no less than four 
teachers during her childhood Mihailovitsch, and, in 
turn, three pupils of Carl Flesch: Frankel, Goldberg 
and Totenberg, all of whom spoke of Flesch in such 
glowing terms that she resolved to become a pupil of 
this master if he would accept her. Fortunately, her 
father had also come to the conclusion that she needed 
the very best teacher that Europe could provide, so 
shortly after her tenth birthday, he approached Carl 
Flesch and that eminent violinist consented to hear her. 

Flesch agreed that Ida showed remarkable promise, 
and offered to give her lessons when, later in 1935, he 


went to Baden-Baden. It was he who urged her to 
compete in the Warsaw violin contest, which she did 
successfully. Then he came to London,, and, in order 
to continue her studies, Ida came to this country. At 
this juncture it should be stated that lessons were also 
taken from two other distinguished violinists during 
those impressionable years : Georges Enesco and Joseph 

After intensive training for a year or so it was 
arranged that Ida should play at a concert under the 
direction of Sir Thomas Beecham, but at the last minute 
it was discovered that the regulations of the London 
County 'Council did not permit a child of less than 
fourteen years to play at a public concert, and the 
engagement had to be cancelled. As soon as she reached 
the approved age, however, she made her debut at a 
London concert in the Brahms concerto conducted by 
the late Sir Henry Wood. This, as many people will 
remember, was a tremendous success, and offers of 
further engagements began to come in almost im- 

Her father, who had been handling her affairs 
with the utmost consideration for her welfare, felt 
strongly that she should accept only a very limited 
number of engagements, so that there would be ample 
time, not only for musical study, but for her general 
education, so her appearances in the concert hall were 
less frequent than many music-lovers would have wished. 

Miss Haendel then returned to Poland for a while 
to give a series of concerts at a number of the larger 
centres in her native land, and then embarked upon 
a further period of study with Carl Flesch in order to 
perfect her technique. These lessons, with those given 
by Enesco and Szigeti, and the experience of concert- 
giving over the past five or six years, have brought her 
to the very high standard of musicianship that is so 
evident in her performances at the present time. 


What is so unusual about Miss Haendel is that at 
the age of twenty-four she possesses a musical under- 
standing such as few acquire before middle-age. She 
seems to be able to interpret each composer as if she 
had spent the best part of a lifetime in studying his 
particular works to the exclusion of everything else. 
She will play her Bach, Brahms and Beethoven with 
the insight of a scholar and then turn to something of 
Tchaikovsky's and give a rendering of it that will 
delight the most ardent devotees of Russian music. 
Her style generally is more robust than one would 
expect from a young lady, and in the more lively 
passages she can be as stimulating as any of those who 
make a speciality of musical gymnastics. Her tone is 
most agreeable, and seems to be acquiring quite a 
quality of its own. 

To mention all her successes in the concert hall 
would, of course, be quite impossible in the short 
amount of space available here, but mention might be 
made of her splendid performance of the Dvorak and 
Brahms concertos in August 1946, and of the memorable 
farewell concert before her American tour which was 
given at the Albert Hall on 24 November in the same 
year. At this she played both the Beethoven and the 
new Khachaturian concertos. Her American debut 
was made at Carnegie Hall on 29 December 1946, and 
her success there was repeated in all the many cities 
she visited during that exacting tour of the United States. 

The best recording she has made up to the time oi 
writing is that of the Tchaikovsky Concerto with the 
National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Basil 
Cameron (Decca). This was done under the new FFRR 
system (full frequency range recording) which gives a 
really faithful reproduction of the soloist's very high 

Miss Haendel does not follow the style of any one 
of the great violinists, but it is perhaps worth recording 


that of the living masters she admires Heifetz for sheer 
executive ability, Szigeti for musicianship as well as 
technique, and Enesco for artistry generally. She uses 
all four fingers on the bow, and believes that it is very 
bad not to do so. Her favourite concertos are those of 
Beethoven and Brahms, and of the contemporary com- 
posers she is drawn especially to Sibelius, William Walton, 
Vaughan Williams and Cyril Scott. She thinks, as do 
several other discriminating musicians, that Cyril Scott 
has been unwarrantably neglected in recent years. 

She generally uses a 1 726 Strad but has, on occasions, 
played in public upon a Guarnerius, and always uses 
aluminium-covered D and A strings. To keep in concert 
form she believes in practising twice a day usually 
morning and evening and considers that every violinist 
should take part regularly in chamber music: it is 
absolutely essential to one's musical education. There 
is always plenty of music-making in her home, as her 
father plays the 'cello, and her sister Alice is a pianist 
of considerable accomplishment. 

In private life, Miss Haendel's interests are as varied 
as those of any ordinary English girl. She is very fond 
of outdoor life and delights in riding and swimming. 
The theatre is. always an attraction to her, and she sees 
quite a number of films Robert Donat is her favourite 
star. Indoors, she is always trying to beat her father at 
table tennis, but has, one gathers, given up trying to 
do so at billiards! Her literary taste is chiefly for 
biographies: the lives of the great are a source of 
unfailing fascination to her. The trouble is that it always 
depresses her to read of the decline and death of great 
composers, artists, writers, and so forth, and after 
finishing a biography she often feels miserable for days ! 

One last word that will surprise many readers: 
Miss Haendel has a soft spot for those much-abused 
"outcasts" of the musical world crooners! She thinks 
that some of them are quite entertaining and can provide 


a welcome diversion when you are in the mood for that 
sort of thing. A great many people pretend to despise 
them merely because it is considered correct to do so. 
Two singers of the lighter variety she specially enjoys 
are Anne Shelton and Bing Crosby. Whether her 
father, who gives the impression of being rather a strict 
parent, entirely approves of this is another matter ! 


IT seems to be generally agreed among all who wield 
the bow that Jascha Heifetz is the world's greatest 
living violinist. There was a time when he was over- 
shadowed by Kreisler, but now that the latter has 
passed his seventieth birthday there can be no doubt 
about the younger man's supremacy, and his veteran 
friend would probably be the first to admit it. Heifetz 
is a paragon: his interpretations are as impeccable as 
his phenomenal technique, in fact on one occasion 
Bernard Shaw felt obliged to warn him that there was 
a danger in being perfect. "Nothing may be perfect 
in this world/' he told the great violinist, "or else the 
gods become jealous and destroy it. So you should 
make a habit of playing one wrong note every night 
before you go to bed." 

Heifetz was born on 2 February 19015 in the city 
of Vilna, the Lithuanian capital. It is said that while 
he was still in his cradle his features would assume an 
ecstatic expression whenever he heard the sound of the 
fiddle played by his father, who was a member of the 
orchestra at the Vilna Theatre. The proud parent 
Ravin Heifetz was his name was most fascinated by 
his tiny son's interest in music, and would frequently 
play the child to sleep. We are told that the slightest 
discord would invariably bring an expression of disap- 
proval on the baby's face. One or two psychologists 
have maintained that if a great deal of music is played 
to a child in its infancy it will grow up with an acute 
consciousness of sound, and one presumes that it will 



develop either a deep love of music or a determination 
to knife every musician it meets. (One begins to wonder 
what will happen in those urban areas where it is impos- 
sible to escape from the sound of neighbours 5 wireless 
sets.) However,, in the case of the infant Heifetz there 
was little doubt that he had music in his soul, and we 
need not attach too much importance to these stories 
of his infancy. 

When he was three years old his father gave him a 
quarter-sized fiddle for a birthday present and taught 
him to play a few simple tunes upon it. To the amaze- 
ment of the family the boy mastered the little violin in 
about a week and played all manner of tunes with such 
taste that neighbours and friends could scarcely believe 
their ears. The scrapings of the average "talented 
child" upon a toy violin are generally a perfect misery to 
all who have the misfortune to come within earshot, but 
little Jascha rarely produced a note that was not in 
tune and of pleasant quality. 

His father then started him upon an elementary 
course of study, and he made really astonishing progress, 
with the result that at the age of five he was allowed to 
enter the Imperial School of Music at Vilna. He studied 
with Elias Malkin, and in less than two years was able 
to give his first public recital. This was at Kovno, 
where he played the Mendelssohn concerto before an 
audience of over 1,000, who were quite bewitched by 
the smooth round tone he produced and the masterly 
way in which his little fingers overcame the difficulties 
of the last movement. His future as a child prodigy 
was assured. 

In 1907 Vilna was visited by Leopold Auer, the 
famous violin professor of the St. Petersburg Conserva- 
toire, who found his friend Malkin rhapsodizing over 
his phenomenal pupil. Auer had heard so many 
extravagant stories about child prodigies that he was 
heartily weary of them and did little to hide his 
impatience. "But you must hear my little Heifetz!" 


Malkin insisted. Auer flatly refused: wherever he went 
people were thrusting little prodigies under his nose, 
and he had heard enough of them to last him a lifetime. 
Malkin then declared that he could never have heard 
anything like Heifetz's playing: he was really phenom- 
enal. Auer was quite accustomed to such claims, and 
again refused. But Malkin persisted, and eventually 
Auer gave in. Heifetz and his father were called, and 
the lad played the Mendelssohn Concerto as coolly as 
if it were the first exercise in a child's instruction book. 
To finish his demonstration he played Paganini's 
Caprice No. 24, and at its conclusion Auer could 
restrain himself no longer: he embraced the lad, predic- 
ted a brilliant future for him, and insisted that he should 
come to the St. Petersburg Conservatoire without delay 
so that he could study under his personal guidance. 

The move to St. Petersburg could not be made 
immediately, for it entailed a great deal of self-sacrifice 
on the part of Ravin Heifetz: it meant giving up his 
very comfortable job at the Vilna Theatre, for instance, 
selling up his home and going to St. Petersburg as a 
complete stranger. Nevertheless, arrangements were 
made in due course, the furniture was disposed of, and 
the little family set out for what was then the Russian 

They arrived feeling very strange, and not a little 
homesick. To their horror, when they called upon 
Auer the eminent violinist failed to remember Jascha 
who was now ten years old and regarded him as yet 
another child prodigy seeking "influence". He kept 
both father and son on the doorstep and after a few 
moments' demonstration of his impatience, sent them 
both away. Ravin was utterly dejected, but shortly 
afterwards approached Auer for the second time and 
eventually succeeded in convincing him that bis son 
was the astonishingly brilliant child he had heard at 


Then it was discovered that no vacancies existed in 
Auer's class, which was already overflowing, and as 
the term had already started the authorities insisted 
that they could make no further admissions for the 
present. Hope was just about at its lowest ebb when 
Auer managed to get Jascha squeezed into the class of 
his assistant, Nalbandjan. Even then the boy was 
admitted for but a single term. 

Another difficulty then arose: Jewish students of 
the Conservatoire were allowed to reside in St. 
Petersburg, but their parents were not, and it looked as 
if after all his sacrifices, Ravin would have to return 
to Vilna and leave his son alone. Fortunately, the 
sympathy of the Director of the Conservatoire had by 
this time been won, and to get over the difficulty it was 
arranged that Ravin should himself become a student 
at the Conservatoire! 

Auer watched Jascha during his first six months of 
class work and decided that he had never known such 
a student in all his years as a professor. He therefore 
made him one of his personal pupils. It seems that the 
boy was put through a most comprehensive course in 
music, for he had to learn the piano and viola as well 
as his chosen instrument, and also had to become 
acquainted with all the other instruments of the 
orchestra. He was obliged to play regularly in the 
Conservatoire orchestra, sometimes among the first 
fiddles, sometimes among the seconds, and quite often 
with the violas. In addition, he was required to take 
part in many quartets, .trios and other chamber 
ensembles. All the students were expected to make a 
diligent study of languages : although only Italian and 
Russian were supposed to be compulsory, they were 
also required to study French and either German or 
English. Heifetz was with Auer for about six years, and 
his master's confidence in him was such that frequently 
when he asked how to play a certain passage, Auer would 
merely wave his hand and reply with a smile: "Play it 


with your nose if you like: you're bound to make it 
sound right!" 

Heifetz gave public recitals all the time he was at 
the Conservatoire. Soon after his admission, for instance, 
he played at a great open-air concert held in Odessa 
and drove his enormous audience of over 25,000 into 
a frenzy of delight. After his concluding item the 
crowd surged forward and both he and his parents were 
almost crushed to death. So one or two of the other 
musicians present called the police, and a stalwart 
officer took the little soloist to safety by concealing him 
under his cloak. Meanwhile, his parents had been 
assisted to a different exit and their anxiety was renewed 
when they were unable to find their son. Fortunately, 
with the assistance of friends and the police, the family 
were reunited shortly afterwards, and they went home 
rejoicing at what had been their son's greatest triumph 
to date. 

While he was still a student, the fame of Jascha 
Heifetz spread all over Europe. ^He was only thirteen 
when he had the honour of appearing as a soloist at 
the Berlin Philharmonic concerts. Nikisch, the conduc- 
tor, declared that never in his life had he heard such 
superb playing of the violin. 

Offers of important engagements and nation-wide 
tours were now coming in so frequently that Ravin 
Heifetz scarcely knew how to deal with them: he was 
most anxious that his son's health should not be 
impaired by too much "concertizing". It must be said, 
though, that the lad stood up to the strain with 
remarkable fortitude. 

During the early years of the Great War, Jascha's 
fame had aroused such interest in the United States 
that the most insistent demands were coming from 
across the Atlantic. Consequently, in the late summer 
of 1917, Heifetz made his first visit to America, despite 
the danger of a wartime crossing. He made his debut 


at Carnegie Hall, New York, on 27 October and astoun- 
ded the critics by his precocity and the purity of his 
tone. Journalists indulged in an orgy of purple patch 
writing that told the world how this sixteen-year-old 
boy had wrung tears from the eyes of all present, and so 
forth. It is true that he had been given an ovation, but 
the more shrewd critics saw that as he was growing out 
of the child prodigy class he would be required to show 
something more than phenomenal technique. His 
dazzling execution of the most preposterously difficult 
music was all very well, but his interpretations were 
quite cold compared with the more emotional playing 
of mature players. There was no "soul" in his Brahms 
and Beethoven, and one critic likened his playing of 
these concertos to carved marble: beautiful, but devoid 
of the warmth of life. 

This coldness was not due entirely to Heifetz's 
youth. To some extent it was deliberate, because at 
that time he was passing through a period of strong 
reaction to the over-emotional playing that was charac- 
teristic of the Russian school of artists. But one may 
safely presume that he did not realize just how far his 
art had swung in the opposite direction. He was of 
course still very young, and one could scarcely have 
expected the mature conception of the artist of riper 

This phase soon passed, for he was quite aware of 
his shortcomings, and his studies were from that time 
intensified by a sincere desire to get beneath the super- 
ficialities of technical prowess and display. During the 
next couple of years he acquired a new understanding 
of what the composer was trying to say, and his playing 
took on a more emotional tinge without losing any of 
its brilliance. 

His first visit to England was made in the summer 
of 1920. He had by then made a number of excellent 
gramophone records, some 70,000 of which had already 
been sold in this country alone. His fame had therefore 


preceded him, not only by verbal and written reports 
of his prowess. A huge crowd of his admirers assembled 
to hear his first London concert, and were not disap- 
pointed, for he was careful to play only works that he 
knew r were especially suited to his style. The better 
critics all spoke well of his performance, though with 
some reserve. The Musical Times of June 1920, reported: 
". . . it is only possible to say, negatively, that he 
did nothing meretricious or that could offend fastidious 
taste. . . . His ease is astonishing, and the way in 
which even in most difficult passages he never scrapes 
nor scratches is all but unparalleled. His tone is 
strong and pure, like that of a high soprano rather 
than of a mezzo-soprano." 

At his second London concert Heifetz played the 
Mendelssohn Concerto and Bach's Chaconne with less of 
the restraint shown on the former occasion, and made a 
very favourable impression. Later in the same year he 
returned to London again and scored another triumph 
with concertos by Paganini and Ernst. The critic 
of the Musical Times said the performance could 
rarely have been equalled for brilliancy and sheer 
beauty of tone in even the most difficult passages. "He 
plays this sort of music with a force of conviction that 
makes one forget that its intrinsic value is not of the 
highest." His playing of the Cesar Franck Sonata in 
A the sonata that Ysaye made famous, by the way 
was less successful as he seemed somewhat out of 
sympathy with the mood of the work. 

Then followed tours all over the world: China, 
Japan, Australia, India music-lovers of all nations, 
near and far, clamoured to hear him, and it is said that 
even at this relatively early age his earnings were 
comparable with those of Kreisler. He had now 
changed from the bushy-haired youth into the reserved, 
sleek and fastidious artist we know to-day. Appearances 
are apt to be deceptive, of course, and many people do 
not realize that Heifetz has always been quite an 


athlete: he is very fond of rowing and swimming, and 
can play an excellent game of tennis. 

Heifetz is deeply interested in the Jewish problem, 
and has the welfare of his race always at heart. It will 
be recalled that in 1925 he built an imposing concert 
hall at Tel-Aviv as a gift to the people of Palestine. In 
the same year he became a citizen of the United States, 
where he has lived for over a quarter of a century. 

Musical education is also a subject about which he 
feels strongly, and he has done much to get music 
taught in schools as part of the general curriculum 
instead of being regarded as a mere "extra" subject to 
be taken chiefly by the more delicate children in lieu 
of something more strenuous. He believes that all 
children should be given the opportunity of learning 
to understand good music, for its influence upon their 
later lives and happiness makes it an art of great social 

On his tours he takes his two most precious fiddles : 
the 1731 Strad and the 1742 Guarnerius used by 
Ferdinand David, but, unlike many of the other great 
violinists, he is keenly interested in the making of 
modern instruments. He advocates the utmost 
encouragement to makers of the present day, for they 
have great possibilities, and it is quite likely that some 
of the finest instruments of the future will have been 
made during the twentieth century. These makers 
will be less inclined to concentrate upon the construction 
of really first-class instruments if violinists persist in 
their prejudice against modern fiddles. No man is 
likely to make a masterpiece if he knows in advance 
that his work will be scorned by the better type of 

During the Second World War Heifetz gave dozens 
of concerts for the troops, in Italy and North Africa 
as well as in the United States. When he played in 


an army camp for the first time he felt more nervous 
than he had ever been in a concert hall, for he was 
afraid that the men would not be interested in his play- 
ing. So many artists had "played down" to what they 
imagined to be the men's level that he felt he ought to 
take the risk of giving them a sound classical programme. 
At the outset he said that whether they liked it or not 
he was going to start off with some Bach "because 
Bach is good for you!" He was well rewarded, for the 
men listened intently and in their applause left him 
in no doubt about their appreciation. At the end of 
the concert he asked them if they would care to make a 
few requests, and to his delight there were calls for 
"more Bach!" 

Details of all his concerts for the troops cannot be 
given here, but a fact of some interest is that in the 
Middle East he gave nearly fifty recitals in two months. 
He played anything up to ten encores at most of them. 

His magnificent recital at the Albert Hall in the 
autumn of 1947, when he played before the Queen and 
Princess Margaret and an audience of over six thousand 
will long be remembered. With the Royal Philharmonic 
Orchestra tinder Sir Malcolm Sargent he gave masterly 
performances of the Beethoven and Tchaikovsky Con- 
certos ; a deeply spiritual interpretation of the former, 
and a vivid, dramatic rendering of the latter. 

His repertoire is vast. The concertos of Bach, 
Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Glazounov, 
Sibelius, Vieuxtemps and Prokofiev are always being 
demanded of him, but he also gives masterly renderings 
of many of the less popular works, such as the Walton, 
which he recorded some time ago for H.M.V., the 
Gruenberg, 1 of which he gave the premiere in the spring 
of 1945 with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene 

Gruenberg (b. Russia 1884, now an American citizen) 
dedicated this concerto to Heifetz. It is a fascinating work 
employing negro spirituals. 


Ormandy, and the second violin concerto of Castelnuovo 
Tedesco, 1 of which he gave the first performance in the 
spring of 1933 with the New York Philharmonic 
Symphony Orchestra under Toscanini. 

Of his concerto recordings, the following are the 
better-known in this country: Beethoven's Concerto 
with Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra 2 : 
Concerto in A by Mozart (K.sig) with the London 
Philharmonic Orchestra under John Barbirolli; the 
Prokofiev Concerto No. 2 in G minor with the Boston 
Symphony Orchestra under Kousseviztky; the Brahms 
Double Concerto in A minor with Emanuel Feuermann 
and the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Ormandy ; 
the Tchaikovsky Concerto with the London Philhar- 
monic Orchestra conducted by Barbirolli; the Walton 
Concerto with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra 
under Eugene Goossens; and the Brahms Concerto with 
the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kous- 

His minor recordings are too numerous to be listed 
here, but mention should be made of the Saint-Saens 
Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso made with John 
Barbirolli and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, 
and the Cesar Franck Sonata in A recorded with 
Arthur Rubinstein at the piano. All these are H.M.V. 

As most violinists are aware, Heifetz has made many 
fine transcriptions which reveal his great ability as an 
editor. Some of the best of these are arrangements of 
the works of Debussy, Godowsky (who was also born 

1 Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco was born in Florence in 1895 and 
made a considerable impression as a composer in Italy before 
he settled in America just before the Second World War. This 
second concerto is called The Prophets because its three move- 
ments are supposed to depict Isaiah, Jeremiah and Elijah 

2 The cadenzas Heifetz uses in the Beethoven concerto are 
generally supposed to be his own. This is not correct: they are 
by Auer and Joachim modified by Heifetz. 


in Vilna and later became an American citizen) and 
Albeniz. He has also composed a few works of some 
merit, and has published some popular tunes under 
the nom de plume "Jim Hoyl". 

Heifetz was honoured by the French Government 
in 1926 when he was made a Chevalier of the Legion 
of Honour. Thirteen years later he was raised to the 
rank of Officier. 

His immaculate style, which most musicians regard 
as the acme of perfection, has won him the allegiance 
of more millions than he would care to count,, but it 
should be said that in the opinion of some critics there 
are certain types' of music in which at least two or three 
other distinguished violinists can challenge his suprem- 
acy. It is perhaps significant that Nicholas Slonimsky, 
the eminent American musicologist (of Russian origin) 
still refers to him as "the virtuoso of the new school of 
cold tonal beauty" in his survey Music Since igoo. 
In passing, it should be noted that Heifetz does not 
regard himself as a paragon and is apt to take it as a 
doubtful compliment when people assure him that he 
was "born a great musician". He often points out that 
the greater part of his success is due to nothing more 
than sheer hard work. 

Stories about him have been circulating in musical 
circles for years. One of the best concerns a certain 
other famous violinist who went with a pianist friend 
to hear Heifetz. As usual, Heifetz won a great ovation, 
and when at length the applause died down the other 
eminent violinist mopped his brow and, turning to his 
friend, remarked casually: "Phew! Very hot in here, 
isn't it?" His companion turned to him with a twinkle 
in his eyes and said: "Not for a pianist!" 

A little anecdote that Heifetz tells against himself 
relates of an incident that occurred during one of his 
transatlantic crossings. A concert had been held on 
board, at which he had obliged by playing a 
few items, and afterwards he had played two or three 


games of table-tennis, at which he happens to be rather 
good. Shortly before retiring for the night he went 
into the bar for a drink when a stranger approached 
and began rhapsodizing about his playing. "I was 
simply spellbound . . ." he raved, "it was one of the 
greatest thrills I have ever experienced . . . why, man, 
your back-hand return is marvellous !" 

Heifetz was married 1 in 1928 to Florence Vidor of 
Hollywood, the film actress. There are two children, 
Josepha and Robert. 

At home, he is a man of fairly simple tastes, though 
his love of art and literature as well as music is revealed 
in his fine collection of paintings and books. He loves 
to give a party, but not of the reckless cocktail type: 
his friends are generally expected to come prepared 
to share his cultural or athletic interests, and when 
drinks are brought round they come usually as a 
refreshment after an hour of chamber music or fervent 
discussion. The evening will quite likely end with 
dancing, of which the great violinist is very fond. 

At his chamber music parties one is likely to meet 
two or three other musicians of the front rank, and they 
will take a delight in proving to any listeners who 
happen to be present that, contrary to the popular 
notion, eminent solo artists can play together in an 
ensemble and blend perfectly. For quartets, if they 
are held in Heifetz's New York flat, he will produce a 
table made to his own design which has music-rests 
illuminated so that the players can see their music 
while the remainder of the room is in complete darkness. 
This, Heifetz declares, is the ideal arrangement for 
chamber music, because he believes that, if possible, all 
music should be heard in darkness. He always likes 
to switch out the lights when listening to the gramophone 

1 An announcement concerning the forthcoming second marriage 
of Heifetz to Mrs. Francis Speilberg was made while this book 
was in preparation. 


or a radio concert, for he maintains that the emotions 
aroused by music are personal, and should be kept 

He knows that people regard him as "reserved", 
but that is part of his mental make-up, and he dislikes 
any great show of the emotions, just as he abhors the 
expression of "temperament" by mannerisms and 
eccentricities. He never goes out of his way to "make 
an impression' 3 upon an audience, and that is perhaps 
why some people imagine that he is indifferent towards 
the general public. This is quite incorrect: he readily 
acknowledges that he is a public servant and endeavours 
to play the sort of music that will please the people. 
But that does not mean that he is under no obligation 
to teach them to love the best in music, and as an artist 
he feels compelled to improve his programmes all the 
time. He tries to understand his audiences, and as fast 
as their taste improves he gives them better and better 

The garden of his country house is always a great 
joy to him and he spends many hours working in it. 
Unlike some of the other great musicians, he does not 
worry unduly about his hands: you will find him 
digging and weeding as unconcernedly as any country- 
man. And he can always find pleasure in a long country 
walk, especially if accompanied by his son and daughter. 
Heifetz also takes an interest in photography, and is 
not ashamed of his boyish love of a powerful car. His 
friends agree that he is a model of good road manners. 

For many years he has been an enthusiastic patron 
of the cinema, but has protested over and over again at 
the appalling reproduction of music that comes from 
the talkie apparatus. For that reason he refused many 
very enticing offers of film contracts, and did not relent 
until 1939, when Samuel Goldwyn promised him 
personally that whatever the cost he would be recorded 
and reproduced in a manner acceptable to him. Heifetz 
then stipulated that he would appear only in the role of 


a concert violinist and under his own name, and that 
he would play only music that was worthy of his 
calling. All this was agreed, and They Shall Have Music 
was the result. Curiously enough, when this film was 
shown in England the reproduction of the music was 
far from satisfactory. 

A somewhat better film from the musical point of 
view was Melody of Youth, in which Heifetz appeared 
and played the Saint-Saens Introduction and Rondo 
Capriccioso, and the last movement of the Mendelssohn 
Concerto. This film was of more interest to violin 
students since it gave many "close-ups" of the violinist 
that showed his fingering and graceful bowing. 

Yet another film featuring this great artist was 
Carnegie Hall, but one cannot help wondering if Heifetz 
is really convinced that the cinema can give even a 
tolerable reproduction of his art. Surely he realizes 
that however much trouble is taken with the recording, 
the music can be made a mockery by a mere mechanic 
when the film is being shown? 


ALTHOUGH many of us now regard him as 
an Englishman, Henry Hoist is really of Danish origin, 
and it is perhaps worth recording that in Jutland he 
has been able to trace his ancestry back to the early 
part of the seventeenth century. His forbears were men 
of quite humble stock: fishermen, farmers, tradesmen 
and schoolteachers, but they all seemed to possess those 
qualities that produce a profound respect for arts and 
honest crafts. There is evidence that music played an 
important part in their lives, though it is true that none 
of them practised the art professionally. 

Hoist's father, for instance, was a schoolmaster, 
accomplished and well read, who took a keen interest 
in the cultural life of his village: he was the church 
organist, he ran a string quartet, delighted in painting 
and sculpture, and was an ardent booklover. He 
collected a library of unusual interest and size, clothing 
most of his treasured volumes with elegant leather 
bindings in his spare time. Some idea of the infinite 
patience with which he tooled these handsome bindings 
may be gained from the volumes in his son's possession 

Such was the environment into which Henry Hoist 
was born on 25 July 1899. He has many happy 
memories of his home in that little village of Saeby, the 
most vivid, perhaps, being of his father's string quartet 
which used the services of a fisherman as a violist and 
of the local chemist as a 'cellist. Music-making began 
as soon as the , day's work was done, and Hoist can 



distinctly remember how the violist would come 
straight from his boat and play, with the fish-scales still 
adhering to his fingers. Many a time was young Henry 
allowed to stay up late, or even to come down from bed, 
to hear them play something that he particularly liked. 

He was therefore given every encouragement in 
his interest in music, and as soon as he was old enough, 
his father gave him a good grounding in the art of playing 
the fiddle. Unfortunately, this able parent died in 
1907 so he knew nothing of the success that his son 
was to enjoy in the musical profession. 

In 1913 Henry Hoist was sent to the Royal Conserva- 
toire at Copenhagen, where for four years he was 
privileged to study the violin under Axel Gade, son of 
Niels Gade (1817-1890) the Danish composer, and the 
piano and harmony under Carl Nielsen (1865-1931). 
He made his debut at the age of eighteen in the same 
city, playing among other things the first concerto 
of Vieuxtemps and the Brahms Sonata in G. This 
concert aroused considerable enthusiasm, and several 
of the critics predicted a brilliant future for him. 

Shortly afterwards, that famous Hungarian violinist, 
Telmanyi, visited Copenhagen and was approached on 
Hoist's behalf by Gade, who felt that the young artist 
could benefit substantially by a period of instruction 
from the distinguished visitor. (The willingness with 
which the Danish teacher was prepared to hand over 
his most promising pupil was typical of the way in which 
he invariably put his pupils' interests before his own.) 
Telmanyi gave Hoist an audition, agreed that he was 
indeed a gifted young man, and accepted him for a 
year's training. This was followed by a visit to Germany, 
where Hoist studied with Willy Hess (1859-1939) for 
a while. This further period of instruction with one of 
Germany's finest violinists (a pupil of Joachim) en- 
couraged Hoist to compete for the leadership of dfe 
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, which became vacant 
at about that time and was to be filled by open 


competition. He was one of the fifteen competent young 
violinists chosen for the final contest, and was extremely 

gatified when the decision was announced in his favour, 
ne of the test pieces, he recalls, was the Ernst Concerto 
in F-sharp minor: a work rarely, if ever, heard 

So in 1923 Henry Hoist became the leader of one of 
the finest orchestras in the world, and for the next eight 
years enjoyed the wonderful experience of playing an 
exceptionally large repertoire under almost every con- 
ductor of fame. For a naturally gifted musician such 
experience during the impressionable "twenties" was 
bound to cause an unusually rapid development of 
his artistic nature, and as soon as he began to appear 
as a soloist many people remarked upon the depth of 
his understanding of not only the classics but a vast 
amount of modern music as well. It was a very strenuous 
life, of course, but one full of interest and excitement. 

It was perhaps inevitable that sooner or later Hoist 
should have longed for artistic independence. However 
delightful it may be to play under such dominant 
individuals as Bruno Walter, Furtwangler, Mengelberg 
and so forth, there comes a time when the artist within 
any strong personality desires self-expression beyond 
the very limited scope afforded by orchestral playiiig. 
In 1931, therefore, Hoist decided to follow a more 
independent path, and with some reluctance no doubt, 
resigned his appointment. 

Arthur Catterall had recently relinquished his 
professorship at the Royal Manchester College of 
Music, and when this position was offered to Hoist, 
the young Danish violinist decided to accept it, dis- 
counting, as Charles Halle had done some eighty years 
previously, the popular notion about the average 
Englishman's phiKstine attitude towards music. 

Over fourteen years were to be spent in that dampish 
city that has contributed so much to British music, and 


during that period Hoist travelled extensively in the 
northern counties as a soloist, very often with the Halle 
Orchestra. Much could be written about his experiences 
in that enthusiastic part of England, but it must suffice 
to say that the one quality he admired above all others 
in the northern music-lovers was their great loyalty 
and kindness to any really competent artist who was 
prepared to spend the greater part of his life in serving 
the musical interests of the North. 

Looking back over those years, Hoist can recall 
some exceedingly gratifying experiences, as, for instance, 
that memorable occasion in 1933 when with the Halle 
Orchestra under Sir Thomas Beecham, he gave one of 
the finest performances of the Sibelius Concerto we 
have ever been privileged to hear. Then there was the 
first European performance of the Walton Concerto 
ig, 1941, which he gave with the Royal Philharmonic 
Society. This concerto, by the way, he has now played 
over twenty-five times. 

In 1945 Henry Hoist left Manchester to take up a 
professorship at the Royal College of Music, London, 
and in the past year or two has figured prominently 
in the musical life of the capital, not only as a soloist 
and teacher but as leader of that accomplished ensemble 
known as the Philharmonia Quartet, which was formed 
in 1941 to make recordings for Columbia. In this he 
is associated with Ernest Element (second violin), 
Herbert Downes (viola) and Anthony Pini ('cello). 

The Philharmonia Quartet's recordings include the 
Mozart Quartet No. 17 in B-flat major (The Hunt} 1 ; 
the Beethoven in F major, Opus 59, No. i (Rasoumof- 
fskyY\ the Schubert No, 14 in D minor (Death and the 
Maiden) 2 ; and the Mozart Quintet for Clarinet and 

*In this recording the second violin part is played by Jean 
Pougnet and the viola by Frederick Riddle. 
*In this recording the second violin part is played by D. Wise 
and the viola by Frederick Riddle. 


Strings in A major (K.sSi) made with Reginald 

Other recordings in which Henry Hoist has taken 
part are of the Haydn Trio No. i in G major (with 
Eileen Joyce, piano, and Anthony Pini, 'cello) ; the 
Dvorak Trio in E minor (with Louis Kentner, piano, 
and Anthony Pini, 'cello); and the Beethoven Arch- 
Duke Trio No. 7 in B-flat major (with Solomon, piano, 
and Anthony Pini, 'cello). All these are Columbia 
recordings, with the exception of the last, which is H.M.V, 

Hoist's tours abroad have taken him over the greater 
part of Europe, and he has made a very favourable 
impression in such countries as Norway, Sweden, 
Denmark, Holland and Hungary, with a repertoire 
that has included the concertos of Busoni, Elgar, Walton 
and Sibelius as well as the more widely-known classics. 
His favourite concertos, incidentally, are the Sibelius, 
Brahms and Elgar, and it is perhaps of interest to note 
that on the Third Programme recently he broadcast 
a concerto by his compatriot Carl Nielson. 

The outstanding feature of Hoist's playing is un- 
doubtedly the fullness of tone which frequently gives 
one a sense of great mastery, especially in such works 
as the Sibelius and Elgar concertos. His unusually 
strong and steady bow arm enables him to execute 
forceful passages very impressively, and he can always 
be relied upon to make the most of anything vigorous, 
This somewhat muscular style seems in keeping with 
what one might call his "massive" interpretation of 
certain concertos. He is always stimulating a trifle 
too vigorous for some people, perhaps and frequently 
manages to bring out something in his tone that other 
players seem to miss. Technically, he appears to lack 

Of his fellow artists there are three whom he admires 
in particular: Heifetz for his superbly immaculate and 
elegant playing, Szigeti for his intellect, great range 


and Interesting choice of music, and Menuhin for sound 
technique and many glorious attributes in tone and 

His taste in music is comprehensive, and he enjoys 
everything that is good even dance music. Just as he 
loves the waltzes of Strauss, for instance, he can also 
appreciate polkas, tangos and modern dance tunes if 
they serve a useful purpose. He is always reluctant to 
say what is good or bad in music, for he feels that this 
is a matter that is largely decided by one's personal 
taste. "If one gets pleasure out of music at a given 
moment, 5 ' he declares, "it fulfils its purpose,- and might 
therefore be regarded as good." 

The teaching of music is a matter to be taken very 
seriously, he feels, and believes that because it is so 
essential that pupils should be able to hear their playing 
as others hear it, the studio of the modern teacher should 
be equipped with a recording apparatus so that after 
a pupil has played, say, a concerto (with his master 
playing the orchestral part upon the piano), he can 
listen critically to his own playing and note all the 
faults. It is a well-known fact that when at first they 
listen to their own recordings, the majority of inex- 
perienced musicians can scarcely recognize their own 
playing! The pupil must know exactly how the music 
should sound before he attempts to play it, and therefore 
he should take every opportunity of listening to the 
recordings of the great violinists if he is unable to hear 
them in person. A pupil who can "hear mentally", 
as it were, a concerto he is about to perform, will play 
it almost subconsciously. Private recordings, or "play- 
backs" as they are generally called, can also be 
extremely useful in comparing one's own interpretation 
of a work with those of other artists. 

Henry Hoist has observed that in this country 
technical perfection is demanded in an artist before 
"soulful insight". However deeply one understands a 
work, a British audience will give little credit unless it 


is played faultlessly; In other words, they will tolerate 
an uninspired rendering, but not one marred by a wrong 

note. Therefore, he urges the young artist in England 
to strive first towards technical perfection and then to 
add something if he can. England, he feels, is a very 

educative country for the solo artist because of this 
extreme love of flawless playing. Our critics, too, are 

apt to be very severe. 

To those who are troubled by "nerves", he would 
say that regular practice, systematic memory training, 

and, above all, an understanding of the psychological 
side of playing are three essentials in gaining confidence. 
He finds that the morning hours and late evening are 
the best for practising. 

"Like most other solo violinists. Hoist uses aluminium- 
covered G and D strings, but until very recently always 
preferred a gut A. Now, however, he prefers a nylon A. 
(Nylon strings, being American, are extremely difficult 
to get, and Mr. Hoist volunteers no information upon 
the ways and means of obtaining them in this country!) 
He uses a Guarnerius del Gesu dated 1742, but also 
possesses a fine Joseph Rocca 1825, 

Henry Hoist was married in 1926 to Else Werner of 
Copenhagen, daughter of the eminent nature photo- 
grapher. They have two daughters, Ingelise aged 
twenty, and Helle who is twelve. Their home is in 

His recreations are tennis, cycling, sea- and sun- 
bathing and lounging in a comfortable armchair with 
a good book near at hand. He is fond of reading history 
musical history for preference. 


THROUGHOUT the world, the name of this 
veteran violinist is familiar even to those who make no 
claim to knowledge of musical matters. His appearances 
nowadays are rare, but he will long be remembered as 
a fine artist with a delightful personality and, strangely 
enough, one of the smallest and most curious repertoires 
ever possessed by a violinist who succeeded in winning 
the respect of the critics. In the history of music he 
will also take a minor place as a composer of many 
pleasant little pieces for his instrument and as the 
perpetrator of a hoax that fooled the musical pundits 
for years. 

* Fritz Kreisler was born on 2 February 1875, * n 
Vienna, son of an eminent physician of that city. His 
father, an enthusiastic amateur musician, taught him to 
play the fiddle when he was very young, but found in 
him a most reluctant pupil: the boy showed amazing 
aptitude, but was not at all keen to practise. He 
positively loathed "exercises". Nevertheless, parental 
encouragement was strong, and by the time he was 
seven he had become such an accomplished little 
player that he was invited to appear at a public concert 
with Carlotta Patti (sister of Adelina Patti). The out- 
standing success of this concert, at which he played a 
variety of little pieces with impeccable taste, made his 
parents decide to send him to the Vienna Conservatoire 
forthwith. On applying for his admission, however, 
they discovered that the rules of the institution precluded 
students under fourteen years of age, but they eventually 



managed to persuade the authorities that the lad's 
talent was such as would justify a special exception to 
the regulations, and he was admitted without further 

- The young Fritz had been using one or two quite 
ordinary little fiddles up to this time the first had been 
made out of a cigar box, we are told but when he 
first went to the Conservatoire he was presented with a 
half-sized Thiers, which he used for several years, and 
to win the gold medal. To celebrate this early success 
he was given a three-quarter-sized Amati by a few of 
his friends, but it was rather a disappointment to him 
because he felt that he had become entitled to a full- 
sized instrument. 

At the Vienna Conservatoire he studied for three 
years with Joseph Hellmesberger, and at the end of that 
period won the gold medal mentioned in the preceding 
paragraph. In those days he was rather under the spell 
of Joachim, whose playing he greatly admired, and he 
was also inspired by that brilliant and celebrated 
pianist Anton Rubinstein. 

Then he went to the Paris Conservatoire to make a 
further study of the violin with Massart and to master 
the intricacies of theoretical subjects under Delibes. 
He was by that time a great deal more interested in 
music generally, but still found the utmost difficulty in 
practising patiently: many a time was he tempted to* 
rebel against the drudgery of exercises, which, he felt, 
took all the pleasure out of music. He invariably 
devoted far less time to practice than that prescribed 
by his teacher, but in spite of this neglect, he won the 
Premier Grand Prix while he was still in his twelfth* 
year, even though he was the youngest of forty con- 

After about another year of study chiefly in Rome 
he met Moritz Rosenthal, the pianist, and they 
planned to tour together. Their decision to visit 
America was a bold one, for Fritz was still only thirteen 


and had not yet established himself in Europe, but the 
experience was to prove useful in later life. His debut 
took place at the Steinway Hall, New York, on 9 
November 1888, and was quite successful. One critic 
declared that the young violinist was a musician to his 
finger-tips, and predicted that hard work and a few 
more years 3 experience would put him in the vanguard 
of his profession, but the majority looked upon him 
merely as yet another child prodigy, and their remarks 
did little to indicate the prospects of the young artist. 
These moderate successes and mild notices of approval 
by critics who did not take him seriously were a great 
disappointment to both Fritz and his parents, and 
consequently, on their return to Europe it was decided 
the he would have to prepare for some other profession. 
This decision was supported by his rejection by the 
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra when he applied for a 
humble post as a second violinist. 

J Fritz Kreisler was accordingly sent to the Vienna 
Gymnasium to study medicine. It is to his credit that 
he went willingly and applied himself with great 
diligence, but it soon became apparent that he was not 
meant to heal the sick, and his next move was to Paris 
to study art. Now his interest in painting had always 
been competing against his music, and it was quite a 
good plan, in those impressionable years, to give it a 
chance to flower. We are told that as an art student 
under Julien he "shaped well", and that several other 
responsible artists spoke enthusiastically of his prospects. 
Meanwhile he retained his interest in music, but his 
violin ceased to attract him altogether. 

' We are so accustomed to regard Kreisler as a wealthy 
man that it is difficult to realize that in those days he 
was extremely poor. When he left Paris he decided to 
study painting for a while in Rome, and to do so had 
to exist chiefly on oranges and water! He loved the 
student life of Rome" very nearly" as much as the 
Bohemian existence he had enjoyed in Paris, but it was 


not long before he was entertaining doubts about a 
career as an artist. His period of compulsory military 
service was then approaching, and to the surprise of 
his friends he started preparing for a difficult army 
examination to get a commission. This he passed 
fairly easily, and in due course found himself in a 
regiment of Uhlans. During the ensuing year he left 
his violin severely alone and took his military duties 
with the utmost seriousness, - 

When he returned to civilian life the question of 
his career became one of paramount importance: he 
could not go on changing his mind for ever. So with 
some reluctance this is his own admission, by the way 
he turned once again to his violin. As one would 
imagine, he found that it was not at all easy to pick 
up the threads again: he had lost the suppleness of his 
fingers, and he discovered to his dismay that his 
technique generally had become very rusty. There was 
no alternative but sheer hard work. He went into the 
country for eight weeks and practised continually for 
lengthy periods every day. On his return he was 
overjoyed when everybody told him that he was better 
than ever before: his playing was quite as good as 
when he visited America and he seemed to have a more 
mature understanding of the music. 

Then began the wearisome task of "getting known", 
of convincing the impresarios, of pleasing the more 
influential critics and so forth. "What a struggle it was! 
There seemed to be so many other brilliant young 
artists competing for the public's favour, so many 
people with "big names" available for engagement, and 
so few who were willing to give him a reasonable hearing* 
The years 1895 to 1903 were one long straggle for recog- 
nition, and it is significant that in his own opinion he 
played quite as well then as in those later years 
when he was a public idol. His first important success 
was in 1899 when he made a brilliant debut in Berlin 


playing concertos by Max Bruch and Vieuxtemps and 
Paganinfs Non piu mesta variations. Even then the 
majority of the critics completely failed to assess his 
greatness as an artist: only one or two perceived that 
a new virtuoso had arrived. 

Later in the same year he made another visit to 
America, and this time his reception was very much 
better, for his interpretations of Bach, Beethoven and 
Brahms made a deep impression. This was indeed 
encouraging, but more disappointments were in store 
for him. His first visit to England in the spring of 
1901, for instance, was utterly depressing. He spent 
weeks in London trying to get a hearing, but nobody 
seemed at all keen to engage him. Eventually, he made 
his debut here at one of Richter's concerts on 12 May, 
and was scarcely noticed. 

* It was America that gave him the greatest encourage- 
ment, and his decision to visit that country again in 
1902 changed the whole course of his life, for on his 
outward journey he met a beautiful, red-headed, young 
American lady named Harriet Lies, They fell in love 
at first sight and the bold young musician lost no time 
in asking her to marry him, Alas ! her father, a wealthy 
tobacco merchant, was not at all keen on his daughter 
marrying "a mere fiddler", particularly one whose 
prospects were still rather uncertain, but love prevailed, 
and the two were married in the following November. 
A more suitable wife could scarcely be imagined, and 
Kreisler has never ceased to praise her remarkable 
intellect and uncanny intuition, which, he says, has 
helped him over all life's difficulties. She has always 
been "a great inspiration" to him. 

1 His fame was now spreading rapidly. He visited all 
the countries of Europe, establishing himself as one of 
the finest living violinists, and in London on 19 May 
1904 only a few years after his dismal experiences 
here he was presented with the Philharmonic Society's 
coveted gold medal. Success followed success, and a 




typical example of the praise he now received may be 
found in a report of one of the Queen's Hall conceits 
at which he appeared under the direction of Sir (then 
Mr.) Henry Wood. It is from The Strad of December 
1905, and runs: "... before an enormous audience Herr 
Kreisler played, as one inspired, Mozart's Concerto in 
A and Viotti's in A minor, No. 22. The performances 
were quite superb for the beauty alike of tone, tech- 
nique and temperament, while no violinist alive or 
dead has or could have had a more distinguished 
style. 5 ' 

No useful purpose would be served by recording all 
his many triumphs during the next few years, so we 
may pass on to the year 1914, when the declaration of 
war came as a great shock to Kreisler while he was on 
holiday in Switzerland. His love of his native country, 
and of Vienna in particular, would not allow him to 
waver for an instant, and he proceeded at once to rejoin 
his old regiment. He was stationed first in Galicia, and 
was soon to find that army life in wartime was very 
different from that experienced during his peacetime 
training: he learned for the first time in his life what 
it was like to sleep in a bed of mud. A violent contrast 
to the comfortable and glamorous life of a travelling 
virtuoso! These experiences made such a vivid im- 
pression upon him that he afterwards published them 
in book form. 1 

On 6 September 1914 he was engaged in resisting 
a Russian cavalry attack when a lance pierced his foot 
and he was taken to hospital. Although the injury was 
not very serious the authorities decided that his days as 
a soldier were over, and he was discharged shortly 
afterwards. He then began giving recitals in aid of 
war charities and sold his famous Strad so that he could 
give all the money to swell the proceeds of these concerts/ 
For the same cause he embarked upon another tour of 
Weeks in the Trenches: the War Stor? of a Violinist. 


America, this time taking an instrument worth only 
300 dollars. 

It was of course inevitable that America's entry 
into the war should arouse violent antagonism towards 
him, and he was obliged to withdraw entirely from 
public life. He settled in Maine and spent most of his 
time in gardening. 

Any fears he might have had about a continuation of 
this hostile attitude after the war were dispelled when 
he resumed his career with a concert at Carnegie Hall, 
New York, in 1919, for on this occasion he received one 
of the greatest ovations he had ever known. Similarly, 
he was given a tremendous welcome when he appeared 
in London again at the Queen's Hall on 4 May 1921. 
And, as everybody knows, his concerts during the next 
two decades brought joy to countless millions all over 
the earth. His world tours established him as the most 
celebrated and popular and the most highly-paid ' 
violinist of the century. 

A point of great interest in those days was his habit 
of entertaining the vast audiences at his more "popular" 
concerts with a variety of pleasant little pieces some 
of them were quite trifling which he introduced as 
transcriptions from the works of such composers as 
Couperin, Martini, Vivaldi, Francoeur, etc. This 
practice went unquestioned until the eminent American 
critic Olin Downes tried to trace the origin of the 
Praeludium and Allegro that Kreisler had been playing 
as his own transcription of Pugnani. Finding nothing 
like it among the works of this composer, Downes 
challenged Kreisler on the subject. Previously, when 
asked about such works, the great violinist had said 
that he discovered them in various old monasteries 
of Europe in which he had done musical research, but 
on this occasion Downes was very persistent in his 
inquisition, and eventually, Kreisler confessed that all 
these works were his own composition. On 7 February 


1935, he cabled from Venice the following confession 
to the Mew Tork Times: "The entire series labelled 
'classical manuscripts 5 are my original compositions 
with the sole exception of the first eight bars from the 
Couperin Chanson Louis XIII, taken from a traditional 
melody. > Necessity forced this course upon me thirty 
years ago when I was desirous of enlarging my program- 
mes. I found it inexpedient and tactless to repeat my 
name endlessly on the programmes." - 

* This confession caused a great sensation in the 
musical world, and many of the critics attacked Kreisler 
violently. The hoax was unparalleled in the history 
of music, for while some composers had adopted 
pseudonyms (the late Sir Henry Wood, for instance, 
adopted that of Paul Klenovsky for his arrangement of 
the Bach D minor Toccata and Fugue) none had tried to 
pass off his works as those of an acknowledged master. 
Naturally, those who most resented the hoax were the 
musicologists who had been fooled by the great violinist's 
action. v Kreisler defended himself with the argument 
that as a young man he found that nobody would listen 
to his compositions, but as soon as he attached recognized 
names to them, they were immediately accepted as 
minor classics! On one occasion he played his Liebes- 
freud, Liebesleid, and Schon Rosmarin as transcriptions of 
pieces by Josef Lanner, together with his own Caprice 
Viennois, and was roundly abused by a well-known 
Austrian critic for his audacity in daring to group one 
of his own trifles with works of Lanner! Why should 
a mere label transform a trifling work into a 

To be quite fair, it must be said that a few critics 
took his hoax in good part, and even acknowledged 
that he had taught the musical world or shall we 
say, musical snobdom a much-needed lesson, but 
for several years afterwards the great violinist was 
regarded with undisguised hostility in certain quar- 


When Hitler annexed Austria, Kreisler applied for, 
and received, French nationality, but for many years 
he has made his home in America, and in May 1943, 
he accepted American citizenship. 

* In April 1941, he was involved in a street accident 
in which he sustained severe injuries to his head. He 
was in hospital for six weeks, during which time he 
received many thousands of letters and telegrams from 
all over the world, and well over a hundred offers of 
blood transfusions. When he returned to public life 
in November 1942 and gave a concert in New York, 
his huge audience rose from their seats to greet him.* 
During the next few years much of his time was spent 
in giving recitals to wounded men of the American 
army and navy. 

Throughout the greater part of his life Kreisler 
disliked broadcasting, and consequently was unheard 
by many millions who were unable to attend his 
concerts- Not until the summer of 1944 did he modify 
his views, and this was only after he had given a series 
of recitals and heard recordings played back to him. 
Then he said that he was satisfied that he had learned 
"microphone technique" and was prepared to make 
further broadcasts occasionally. According to one 
report, sums substantially in excess of 5,000 dollars 
have been offered to him for a single half-hour broadcast. 

His occasional concerts nowadays are always accor- 
ded a place of honour in America's musical calendar, and 
they are often in support of some good cause, as, for 
instance, the remarkable performance he gave in New 
York in 1946 at a concert in memory of the late President 
Roosevelt. (Over 100,000 dollars was raised for the fund 
to combat infantile paralysis. Some months later he 
gave a recital at Atlanta, Georgia, that drew the largest- 
audience ever known in that city. 

The first full-sized fiddle Kreisler used was the Gand- 
Bernadel presented to him by the Paris Conservatoire 


*vhen he won the Grand Prix de Rome, but he 
was rather disappointed in its tone. A few years later, 
his father gave turn a Grancino, which he used for the 
next seven or eight years. Then he acquired from a 
friend a damaged instrument that had been taken in 
part payment of a debt, and believing it to be a fiddle 
of exceptionally good tone, he had it repaired. To his 
great joy it proved to be a genuine Gagliano, and after 
only a small amount of attention it became one of the 
most serviceable instruments he had ever possessed. 
He used it continually until 1905, when he bought a 
superb Guarnerius which he played for a couple of 
years. Then he discovered another fiddle of the same 
make, but of superior tone, and tried to buy it. Un- 
fortunately, it had just been sold to a collector, but, 
determined to acquire it, Kreisler sought out this gentle- 
man and begged permission to play it. The collector 
agreed readily, and being very moved by the great 
artist's performance, said that anyone who could draw 
such lovely tone from the instrument ought to possess 
it: so he sold it to Kreisler for .2,000.! This exquisite 
fiddle is dated 1737, and has the maker's initials set 
in diamonds on the tailpiece. The pegs and buttons are 
similarly decorated, and its silver case is richly overlaid. 
The tone is very sweet indeed, but it seems to be a 
somewhat temperamental instrument, and one must 
understand its peculiarities in order to get the best out 
of it. ,' Kreisler also possesses two or three other 
fiddles of great valuer His famous "Lord Amherst"*- 
Strad was sold recently to Jacques Gordon of the East- 
man School of Music. 

His style of playing is quite individual; it is full of 
romantic charm, full-bodied and typically Viennese/ 
but at times one detects almost an English virility. His 
tone is warm and glowing, and his superb artistry 
becomes especially apparent in unaccompanied passages, 
for his intonation is perfect and he displays great feeling 
for the music. His profound cultural background has 


undoubtedly deepened his artistic perception. A 
musician, he believes, should possess a sound knowledge 
and understanding of art generally, otherwise he is 
bound to be at a disadvantage in trying to express his 
feelings in music. 'Those who are interested in nothing 
but their own art are not great artists," he maintains. 

Kreisler is most interested in chamber music, and 
has written a string quartet, but has never pretended 
to achieve anything as an ensemble player. He did 
appear in public once as a member of a string quartet, 
but the result was not very satisfactory. He is also an 
accomplished pianist, but again, never plays the piano 
in public. 

Apart from his many compositions for the violin, he 
has written two pleasant operettas, Apple-blossoms (first 
performed in New York in 1919} and Sissy (a moderate 
success in Vienna in 1923), and the music for the film 
The King Steps Out. Many of his arrangements of classical 
and modern music are well known. 

Several of his recordings are of his own violin pieces, 
such as theRondino on a theme of Beethoven., Schon Rosmarin, 
Liebesfreud, Liebesleid, Caprice viennois, Tambourin ckinois, 
etc., but he has also recorded a number of his excellent 
arrangements of little pieces by classical and modern 
composers for H.M.V., as well as the Mozart Concerto 
in D, the Beethoven, Brahms and Mendelssohn, with 
the London Philharmonic Orchestra. With Zimbalist 
he has also made a good recording of the Bach Concerto 
for two violins in D minor. 

There can be no doubt that Kreisler's strong person- 
ality has contributed to his enormous popularity: his 
bearing on the platform and that kindly smile have 
done much to win the favour of his audiences. His 
generosity, too, will long be remembered. After the 
Great War, for instance, he gave the greater part^ of 
his income to the alleviation of distress in his native 
Austria, and his wife undertook personal responsibility 


for over forty war orphans. For five years he contributed 
handsomely towards the support of 1,500 starying a.rtists. 

Many other musicians have reason "to be ^grateful to 
him for kindly acts and assistance in times of need. An 
example of the sort of thing he used to do will be found 
in an incident that took place during one of his visits 
to Dublin. Walking along one of the main streets in 
very bad weather he was vexed to hear a talented 
young lady playing the violin in the gutter. He stood 
for a few minutes listening as she played in the rain, 
and then told her that he would find her a job. Of 
course, he had no idea how to start this undertaking, 
but he did not rest until he had secured for her a 
permanent post in a theatre orchestra. - 

He has always been unmoved by the favours and 
patronage of royalty, and showed little enthusiasm for 
their invitations unless they happened to be genuinely 
interested in music. On the other hand, he has invariably 
been keen to meet great scientists, philosophers, painters 
and writers when on his travels, whether they have been 
interested in music or not. His interest in science, 
medicine and surgery is well known, but few of his 
admirers realize that he can speak no fewer than eight 
modern languages, and has also a good knowledge of 
Latin and Greek. Incidentally, he is a fervent collector 
of rare books. 

His spontaneous wit makes him an ever-welcome 
guest at the houses of his many friends, and he delights 
in good company, but he loathes invitations to play 
at private parties held by prominent members of 
society. In his earlier days, particularly when he was 
in his prime as a virtuoso, he received dozens of such 
invitations and tried to discourage people from sending 
them by charging very high fees. On one occasion a ' 
fabulously wealthy lady demanded his services, and 
would not be deterred even when he quoted a fee of 
3,000 dollars for playing just a few little pieces. So he 
accepted the engagement. The lady then told him that 


she did not wish him to mix with her guests, many of 
whom would be very prominent people, and he replied 
immediately: "In that case, madam, my fee will be 
only 2,000 dollars. 3 ' 

' Kreisler has never overcome his dislike of practising, 
and even when he was giving regular concerts he never 
did more than three hours a day. During those years it 
was his wife who kept him up to concert pitch, for if he 
began to neglect his practising she would literally drive 
him to it! While on holiday he would not touch his 
fiddle for weeks on end. 

He has always held the opinion that too much 
practising is apt to cramp one's style, and that many 
musicians worry so much about technique that they 
tend to lose sight of the character of the music they are 
trying to interpret. The hands should be regarded as 
of secondary importance, for after all, they are but 
executive organs of the mind. Kreisler has for many 
years maintained that the suppleness of the fingers, 
about which so many musicians are perpetually con- 
cerned, can be maintained as easily by three minutes' 
immersion in hot water as by a couple of hours of 
wearisome practice provided, of course, that one is 
playing fairly regularly. 

He has no unusual methods to which he attributes 
his extraordinary success, and any attempt to "draw 
him out" on this subject generally results in a tribute 
to his wife, to whom, he declares, he owes everything. 
" But for her," he says, " I should be but an obscure 
member of an orchestra." 


ON the threshold of what promises to be quite a 
brilliant career as a solo violinist is Nona Liddell, whose 
playing has already won the commendation of several 
of our leading musicians. Many young players with 
good technique seem to be full of promise in their student 
days, but fail to fulfil the hopes of their friends when 
they get out into the world, so one hesitates to predict 
the future of any of these "stars of to-morrow. 55 But the 
case of Nona Liddell is rather different because she seems 
to be more than a violinist with a fine technique: she 
is a young musician of intellect, and has a personality 
that is already showing itself behind the inevitable 
modesty of a young lady just out of her 'teens. 

She was born in Baling in 1927 and started playing 
the fiddle when she was five. Her mother had been a 
student at the Royal College of Music and had done 
quite a lot of teaching in India. For nine years Nona 
Liddell was a pupil of Miss Jessie Grimson, and then at 
the age of fourteen went for a year as a private pupil 
of Rowsby Woof. At sixteen she won the Ada Lewis 
Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, where she 
studied for two terms under Marjorie Hayward and the 
remainder of the time under Paul Beard. 

Miss LiddelPs general education was received at 
the Notting Hill and Baling High School. A point of 
interest is that when she made her d^but at a Promenade 
concert in the summer of 1947 she appeared in the same 
programme as Astra Desmond, the singer, who went to 
the same school. Throughout her schooldays Miss 



LiddelTs chief interest was dramatic art, and she spent 
a great deal of time in organising and taking part in 
amateur theatricals. The only prize she ever won was, 
oddly enough, for sight-singing. Her best and favourite 
subjects at school were History, English and French. 

Nona Liddell's first professional engagement of any 
importance was in 1943, when she was about sixteen. 
This was at a concert held at the Wygeston Grammar 
School, Leicester, in which she played, among other 
things, three movements of the Lalo Symphonic Espagnole 
and the Tartini G minor Sonata. 

At the Academy she played an enormous amount of 
chamber music which, she now feels, was largely 
responsible for the excellent progress she made during 
those years. She also feels very indebted to Paul Beard 
for his splendid training and kindly assistance. Much of 
the sonata playing she did in those days was with the 
late Rae Leeming, a fellow student. 

Her favourite concertos are the Sibelius and Brahms, 
both of which she played with the Academy Orchestra 
under Clarence Raybould before she left that establish- 
ment in 1947, but she is also a great lover of Bach, 
whose architectural splendour, she feels, outshines even 
the noble symphonies of Beethoven. Most modern 
music appeals strongly to her, and she is making a 
special study of it, particularly the works of William 
Walton and Benjamin Britten. 

In March 1947 Miss Liddell went to Brussels with 
a party of Academy students as the violin soloist. At 
the Conservatoire they gave an interesting concert, 
with Miss Liddell contributing such items as the Delius 
Second Sonata and Ronald Smith's Legende for violin 
and piano. 

It is perhaps too early to say much about Nona 
LiddelPs style, but she has considerable technical 
ability and interprets with understanding. It is interest- 
ing to note that she admires Ginette Neveu for the 
"virility" of her playing, for her sincerity and great 


artistry in subordinating her phenomenal technique for 
the music's sake. Szigeti is admired for his superb 
playing of the classics, and Frederick Grinke for his 
sound musicianship and sensitive playing. She uses a 
Testore dated 1733 and prefers a gut A string to the 
more modern metal-covered type. 

Miss Liddell is a voracious reader of fiction, history, 
biography and mythology especially Finnish mythology 
because of her great interest in the life and works of 
Sibelius. Her favourite authors are Galsworthy, Somer- 
set Maugham, Dickens, and all the Elizabethan and 
Jacobean playwrights. She is still a keen theatre-goer 
and is fond of art, but realizes that her knowledge of 
it is very limited. She is tolerant towards dance music, 
jazz and "swing" 1 , but is not an habituee of the ballroom. 
Out of doors she favours swimming and sailing as 

She has two sisters: Olwen, a pianist, and Hilary, an 
actress whose love of the stage enables her to stand the 
racket of working in a repertory company not far from 
London and travelling nearly a hundred miles a day. 

*It seems that these tihree terms are not synonymous! 


WE come now to the youngest of all the artists por- 
trayed in this book: Alan Loveday, that remarkable 
young man from New Zealand who caused quite a 
sensation in the summer of 1946, when as a lad of 
eighteen he made his first important public appearance 
in this country at the People's Palace. 

He was born at Palmerston North, New Zealand, 
on 29 February 1928 superstitious people will no 
doubt be able to connect this date in some way with 
his "leap" to success and started to play the fiddle at 
the age of three on a one-eighth size instrument made 
specially for him. His father was for many years a 
professional violinist and was therefore his teacher 
until he came to England, while his mother made 
herself responsible for his general education. 

When he was about nine years of age he was heard 
by the Budapest String Quartet, who were making a 
tour of New Zealand, and they were so impressed by 
his unusual skill that they gave a benefit performance 
in his home town to start a fund for his training in 
England. A small committee was formed, consisting of 
the Mayor and other prominent local people, and by 
X 939 sufficient money had been raised to send Alan 
to London. 

The year in which the Second World War broke 
out was not an auspicious one for the arrival of an 
unknown young violinist in this country, but he had the 
good fortune to meet Albert Sammons some time after- 
wards, and that eminent artist at once perceived in 



him the makings of a fine violinist. He accepted him 
as a private pupil, and in due course Alan Loveday was 
awarded a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, 
where he was able to continue studying under Sammons's 

Most people regard Loveday's appearance at the 
People's Palace in 1946 as his debut, but he actually 
played in public on two or three occasions before this, 
one of them being quite early in the war when he played 
the Mendelssohn Concerto at Worthing with Albert 
Sammons conducting. This, by the way, was one of 
the very few concerts at which Sammons wielded a 
baton instead of a bow. 

An important milestone in Loveday's career was 
his splendid performance of the Tchaikovsky Concerto 
at a Promenade concert during the summer of 1946. 
This brought him not only the acclamation of a delighted 
audience but praise from some of our most distinguished 
critics. One of them, writing in The Strad, referred to 
his "beautiful velvety tone produced without apparent 
effort" and the purity of his intonation. The latter is 
an important point, because one of Loveday's finest 
accomplishments is his ability to play a beautiful note, 
absolutely in tune, even in the dizziest harmonic heights. 
This is something that cannot always be said about 
certain violinists of international repute. 

From that time, Loveday has been favoured with 
a number of important engagements, including further 
Promenade concerts, about fifteen or sixteen with the 
Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under such conduc- 
tors as Sir Malcolm Sargent and Dr. Reginald Jacques, 
and at least three with the Halle Orchestra under John 
Barbirolli. So far, most of his appearances have been 
in the northern counties, but with broadcast recitals 
and future concert performances in London he is likely 
to become a favourite all over Great Britain before he 
is much older. He certainly has everything in his 


favour his left hand is really quite remarkable and he 
requires only that "polish" that a few more years' 
experience will undoubtedly bring, together with an 
improved vibrato, to establish himself in the front rank 
of solo violinists. 

Alan Loveday attributes his early success to good 
training when he was very young. He uses all his fingers 
on the bow, and seems to have no fads or "precious 5 * 
notions about violin-playing. His love of Bach is as 
fervent as that of a young organist raised in an English 
cathedral, but his favourite concerto is the Mozart 
Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major (K.sig) which, of 
course, is included in his own repertoire with those of 
Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Elgar, Sibelius 
and others. 

His "ideal" violinist is Heifetz, and he never tires of 
listening to the records made by that master. In 
practising, Loveday finds that he can make better 
progress by doing short, irregular periods than by 
setting himself definite sessions of work. Lengthy 
practising, however doggedly it is pursued, he considers 
to be inadvisable. 

In person he is typical of any other normal young 
man of his age: he would far rather cycle in the lanes 
of Sussex, where he lives, than spend his time in courting 
the favour of the musical snobs. One could scarcely find 
a more frank and unaffected musician. A million 
other youths with his ability would have acquired at 
least one pair of pink velvet trousers to go with it. Watch 
him playing cricket or tennis and you will feel glad 
that musicians no longer have to cultivate long hair 
and unhealthy complexions in order to make an 
"artistic" impression. Typical, too, is his candour in 
acknowledging that he enjoys listening to dance music. 
He is keen to see the world, and it is one of his ambitions 
that he will be able to tour his native New Zealand, 
Australia and America. 


A BRILLIANT English violinist of whom we 
hear far too little, for some mysterious reason, is Thomas 
Matthews : an artist of great technical skill. 

He was born at Birkenhead on 9 May 1907, nephew 
of J. E. Matthews, an accomplished violinist who used 
to lead the orchestra attached to Sir Thomas Beecham's 
opera company when on provincial tours. His uncle 
taught him to play the fiddle when he was very small, 
and even as a boy he was quite a proficient performer. 
The full advantage of this early start was felt when he 
was about fourteen, for the sudden death of his father 
made it necessary for him to start earning his own living 
forthwith. He was only fifteen when he was appointed 
a member of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, 
and within a year he achieved the further distinction 
of being admitted to the ranks of the Halle Orchestra, 
thereby coming under the influence of the late Sir 
Hamilton Harty. He held these two appointments for 
ten years, during which he studied with Albert Sammons, 
and in due course rose to the position of deputy leader 
of the Halle Orchestra. During this period four summers 
were spent abroad in taking further lessons from Carl 

In 1936 Matthews decided to try to specialize in solo 
work and accordingly resigned his orchestral appoint- 
ments, He came to London and gave three excellent 
recitals at the Grotrian Hall, as a result of which he was 
offered a series of concerts In Finland. On this tour he 
made a significant impression in the Delius and Mozart 



concertos, which still occupy a prominent position in 
his repertoire. 

On his return to England, Matthews gave a magnifi- 
cent performance of the Elgar concerto with the Halle 
Orchestra under Dr. Malcolm Sargent, thus inaugura- 
ting the association of his name with this monumental 
work. He has now played it well over thirty times in 
a manner that leaves one in no doubt about his admira- 
tion for it: he considers it to be the greatest modern 
violin concerto we possess. Many a music-lover will 
remember the astonishing performance he gave of it 
at the Coliseum with the London Philharmonic Orches- 
tra in June 1941 : his seemingly effortless handling of its 
more difficult passages and these are a gruelling test of 
any violinist delighted everybody in the large audience. 

The advent of war in 1939 was, of course, a great 
anxiety to all soloists who had to support themselves 
by means of their musical activity, and it is not* surpris- 
ing that Matthews accepted an invitation to return 
to the reconstructed Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra 
as leader. Shortly afterwards, however, a similar invita- 
tion came from the London Philharmonic, and for one 
season he led both of these orchestras, but the strain 
proved too great, and in the following year he resigned 
his Liverpool appointment in order to devote all his 
time to the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and 
naturally to whatever solo work could be fitted in 
with their arrangements. 

An important milestone in his career was the occasion 
in 1940 when he gave the first performance of Benjamin 
Britten's Violin Concerto with the London Philharmonic 
Orchestra under the direction of Basil Cameron. This 
is another extremely difficult work one critic, it will 
be recalled, remarked that the composer had evidently 
made a point of exploring the very limits of human 
endeavour but the fact that Matthews was invited to 
repeat it in the North of England and at Bristol with 


the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Clarence Raybould, 
shortly afterwards, speaks for itself. 

During the later years of the war, Matthews made 
several important tours of the Dominions, visiting New 
Zealand, Australia, South Africa and the Middle East, 
Among others, the concertos of Elgar, Britten, Beethoven, 
Delius, Brahms and Prokofiev were played to very large 
and appreciative audiences. 

Another fine modern concerto with which the name 
of Thomas Matthews will be associated is that of 
William Walton. During 1946-7 he performed this out- 
standing work with the Halle Orchestra under John 
Barbirolli no less than nine times. In the same year 
he was offered the head professorship of the violin at 
the Royal Manchester College of Music, an appoint- 
ment which he still holds with a professorship at the 
Royal Academy of Music. 

Matthews feels very strongly about the neglect of 
British artists for those of other countries by some of 
London's concert promoters. Ironically enough, British 
nationality appears to be an impediment to the success 
of an ambitious violinist only in English speaking 
countries, for Matthews himself has played as a guest 
soloist in Stockholm and Vienna, to mention but two 
cities of culture and discrimination from which he has 
received invitations. As an instance of this he has men- 
tioned an occurrence in Johannesburg during one of his 
tours. A discriminating musician happened to overhear 
him playing over a few of the more difficult passages of a 
concerto in his room at an hotel, and went at once to the 
agent of a prominent impresario in a state of considerable 
excitement. "I have been listening to a remarkably 
brilliant violinist rehearsing at my hotel," he declared. 
"You ought to get into touch with him immediately and 
see if you can't fix up some concerts he has wonderful 

"Have you discovered his name?" the agent asked 



"Yes. It's Matthews/ 5 the other replied. 

The agent's face fell immediately, and he shook his 
head. "You can't promote a name like Matthews!' 5 

The point that Matthews so often makes is that the 
English artist is so rarely given a fair chance of getting 
accustomed to concerto work. This is absolutely 
necessary if one is to rise to the height of such 
people as Heifetz or Milstein, both of whom he greatly 
admires. However brilliant he may be, a violinist 
cannot expect to give a beautifully polished performance 
of, say, the Beethoven concerto, if he never gets the 
chance of playing it with a symphony orchestra in 
public more than once a year. Practice at home, with 
the studying of gramophone records, is not the same. 

Matthews uses a Matteo Gofriller, and prefers 
"Pirastro" strings aluminium-covered. These, unfor- 
tunately, are extremely difficult to get at the present 
time. He always uses a Hill bow and considers this to 
be the finest make in the world. His pupils are allowed 
considerable latitude in the holding of the bow, though 
he invariably uses all four fingers on it himself. Similarly, 
he believes that fingering is a personal matter dictated 
largely by the shape of one's hand. Every violinist must 
himself determine the attitude of his left hand, avoiding 
movements that seem unnatural to him. 

He thinks it is most essential that the violin student 
should learn the right way to practise early in life. So 
many work hard at the wrong sort of practice and do 
not discover the way to true progress until they have 
passed the "impressionable" years. The young violinist 
must learn to become his own critic: the average student 
does not listen enough to his own playing. A vitally 
important point to remember is that the tone of the 
violin you are playing sounds different to the right ear 
than to the left, owing to the fact that the latter is much 
nearer the instrument. It is the right ear that hears as 
the audience hear, yet the vast majority of violin 


students listen to their tone almost exclusively with the 
left the right ear tends to become lazy because, 
consciously or unconsciously, the effort of listening is 
made by the left ear. This probably accounts for much 
of the bad intonation we hear to-day. 

Another criticism that Matthews often makes is that 
there is too much uniformity in the playing of many 
violinists to-day. So few seem to be able to explore the 
amazing diversity of tone that the fiddle is capable of 
producing: they generally succeed in doing so only when 
they have become too old to give first-rate performances, 
for the gift of producing a large variety of tones is one 
that can come only with long experience. He considers 
that among his contemporaries Ginette Neveu is one of 
the few who are exceptionally gifted in this direction, 
and he urges young violinists to listen carefully to this 
artist's playing. 

He advises the rising violinist to make a special 
effort to identify himself with a particular work, or a 
small number of works, or with a particular style of 
playing. Some indeed many say that this form of 
specialization is a disadvantage, but Matthews has come 
to the conclusion, from his own very considerable 
experience, that it is well worth while. So many of the 
really great works for the violin require such a tremen- 
dous amount of study if they are to be performed 
perfectly that it is better to rise to fame with a reputation 
for superb playing of two or three masterpieces than to 
remain in the ranks of mediocrity with a vast general 
repertoire. The standard of playing demanded to-day 
is extremely high, since audiences are becoming more 
and more discriminating every year, and of violinists in 
particular, they expect impeccable artistry. 1 

1 An interesting point arises here. It is the author's opinion 
that before an average English audience a second-rate pianist 
can "get away" with a piano-smashing orgy in which every 
conceivable fault is apparent, yet the same audience will give 
only the mildest applause to a well-performed violin concerto. 
There is definitely a type of listener who honestly enjoys my 


Matthews has always identified himself with the 
Elgar concerto, and no one will deny that he is one of 
the very few violinists in the world to-day who can give 
a really intelligent rendering of this masterpiece. His 
favourite concerto, incidentally, is the Brahms, which he 
believes to be the most wonderful work yet written for 
the violin, and one that demands the utmost skill in its 

Until a few years ago Matthews was a keen golf and 
tennis player, but he now finds that his time is wholly 
occupied with music. His love of chess, on the other 
hand, is undiminished. He considers it to be the greatest 
game in the- world and confesses that he plays it at 
almost every meal-time ! 

type of violent piano-thumping provided that the destruction 
is carried out in the ritual of a concerto. Everybody knows 
that it is far more difficult to produce a beautiful sound from a 
violin than from a piano, yet virtuosity in a violinist is still 
relatively unappreciated by the majority of concert-goers. It 
requires something not far short of a miracle to make them 
applaud as heartily as they would for a splashy keyboard per- 


ANOTHER eminent English violinist who in recent 
years has preferred to concentrate upon chamber music 
and teaching rather than concerto and other forms of 
solo work is Isolde Menges, whose youngest brother, 
Herbert, is the conductor. 

Her father, George Menges, was of German descent, 
but married an Englishwoman, and between them they 
ran a successful school of music at Hove, where all their 
children were born. They spent their honeymoon in 
Germany and had dreams of having a child who would 
become a great violinist ; in fact, with the rash optimism 
with which young musicians are apt to be endowed, 
they decided that while they were in Germany it would 
be well to buy the proposed child a suitable fiddle! 
So they acquired a good but tiny instrument and brought 
it home confident that it would be put to good use. 

Thus Isolde Menges, their first-born, had greatness 
thrust upon her even before she was born. That event 
took place in the year 1893. It would have been too 
bad had she inherited none of her parents* musical 
gifts, but any anxiety they might have had about that 
was dispelled when she was quite an infant, for it soon 
became evident that she had a remarkable ear for music. 

Before she reached the age of four she had given a 
little recital at her grandparents' house on the instru- 
ment her parents had acquired for her. Six pieces 
had been played entirely from memory, for she was 
unable to read music at that time, and had to learn 
everything by ear. 



Isolde Menges received her early lessons from her 
father and mother in the company of her sister, 
Elfriede. Her two brothers, George and Herbert, were 
taught likewise, so all the four children grew up in an 
atmosphere of mutual music-making. Isolde even got 
the idea that everybody learned to play the fiddle as a 
matter of course, just as every child is taught to read 
and write, and was amazed when she visited some friends 
of the family one day and discovered people who could 
not do so. 

A governess was engaged to take charge of her 
general education, and she was allowed to take additional 
music lessons with Leon Sammertini, who is now at 
the Chicago Conservatoire, and Emil Sauret. Then 
at sixteen, she went to Russia to study with Leopold 
Auer, and later spent two seasons with him at Dresden. 

Her debut was made at the Queen's Hall when she 
was about nineteen years of age. She played the 
Tchaikovsky concerto and the Lalo Symphonie Espagnole 
under the direction of Lyell-Taylor and was so success- 
ful that a further concert was arranged a fortnight 
later. At this she played the Beethoven and Wieniawski 
concertos. Her first recital took place on 14 March 
1913 at the Bechstein Hall. 

Three years later she embarked upon an extensive 
tour of America and Canada that lasted until 1919. 
This gave her the opportunity of appearing with such 
fine bodies as the Boston and Chicago symphony 
orchestras, and she was acclaimed by the American 
press as one of the greatest musical discoveries of the 
age. Musical America, for instance, said that she was by 
far the best female violinist that New York had ever 

Those who imagine that concerts for schoolchildren 
are a recent innovation will be interested to know that 
during this tour Miss Menges gave well over a hundred 
concerts in various parts of Canada to audiences 


consisting exclusively of children, and gave patient 
explanations of all the music she played. She has always 
enjoyed introducing music to the young, and has a 
charming way of analysing it so that even the merest 
child can understand the composer's intentions. 

During the nineteen-twenties Miss Menges toured 
all over Europe establishing an enviable reputation 
for herself, particularly in Germany where her playing 
has always been highly appreciated. Typical of the 
sort of notice she got is this report in Der Reichsbote: 
' 'Isolde Menges 3 playing in the Bliithner Saal 
was so wonderfully musical, and showed such depth 
of feeling and beauty of tone that one at once recog- 
nized her as an artist of the first rank. Above all, 
she possesses the greatest essential, a strong artistic 

The famous Menges Quartet was founded in 1931 
and originally consisted of Isolde Menges (first violin), 
Beatrice Garrelle (second violin), John Yewe Dyer 
(viola) and Ivor James ('cello). A few years ago 
Lorraine du Vail, a gifted Canadian violinist, replaced 
Miss Carrelle, and Jean Stewart took the place of John 
Dyer, though the latter still assists from time to time 
when quintets and sextets are performed. 

Miss Menges became a professor at the Royal College 
of Music in 1931, and has never failed to find interest 
and satisfaction in teaching. To her pupils she passes 
on much of the wisdom she acquired from that 
world-famous master Leopold Auer: she still has vivid 
recollections of his remarkable classes, but she has no 
special "method 33 , for no two pupils have hands exactly 
alike, and therefore it is useless to try to force upon 
them any set rules. Miss Menges emphasizes the signifi- 
cance of freedom of movement, and the student is always 
urged to "feel his way through the tone 33 . 

In bowing the importance of balance can scarcely 
be exaggerated: the third finger can be made to help 


the fourth a great deal in maintaining a good balance, 
while the significance of the thumb is not always 
realized. Moreover, students do not always understand 
that it is the first finger that has to give the tension. 

Miss Menges deplores the modern method (favoured 
by some teachers) of concentrating exclusively upon 
technique at first, and then belatedly giving some 
attention to interpretation. She feels that if a student is 
to develop into a true artist he must learn technique 
and interpretation together. Interpretation is a vast 
subject: too vast to be mastered entirely in a lifetime, 
so every music student should start this part of his 
training at the earliest possible moment. Technique 
only enables him to reproduce what he wants : he must 
know what he wants from the start. - 

Too many young musicians have made a fetish of 
technique. They play the notes accurately but never 
seem to have asked themselves the question "What does 
the composer mean by this?" It is this unfortunate 
neglect of interpretation that accounts for the "dead" 
music we so often hear nowadays, and which is naively 
excused as "purist". 

Although the student cannot do better than to 
work steadily at the classics it should be borne in mind 
that the works of the "virtuoso composers" are extremely 
useful in developing one's technique, and should be 
used regularly, even if one personally dislikes them. 

Miss Menges 5 taste is conservative: she names 
Bach and Beethoven as the two "indispensable" 
composers, and if she were allowed to play the works 
of only two other composers she would choose Schubert 
and Mozart. Her "ideal" violinist is Heifetz, whose 
playing has always fascinated her, and she greatly 
admires that superb violist, William Primrose. There 
are, of course, various other fiddlers whose playing 
she enjoys, but mere musical acrobatics do not interest 


Miss Menges was married in 1920 to Harold Tod 
Boyd, who wrote a fair amount of music for the violin. 
He died in 1946. Her son, David, is now a student at 
the Royal College of Music. He started learning to 
play the violin when he was very small on the same 
quarter-sized instrument that his grandparents had 
bought on their honeymoon it is still in his mother's 
possession but in time he showed a marked preference 
for the piano, and is now studying that instrument. 

Isolde Menges uses a Guarnerius dated 1714, which 
according to Hill was made partly by Andrea 
Guarneri (circa 1626-1698) and partly by Guarneri del 
Gesu (1698-1744). She also possesses a fine Strad 
dated 1714. 

Meeting her in her delightful home not far from 
Barnes Common, one begins to realize what a strong 
personality she is: every year of experience has added 
to her great store not only of musical knowledge but 
of understanding of the philosophy that lies behind the 
work of many of the greater composers. She reads 
theosophy, philosophy, and good fiction. Dickens and 
Thackeray are her favourites. But her accomplishments 
are not all intellectual : she is tremendously fond of her 
home and of animals (two cats, two dogs, a parrot 
and poultry!), and it is chiefly this domesticity that has, 
in recent years, made her less keen to tear about the 
world giving recitals. 


THE name of Yehudi Menuhin is almost a household 
word among those who are at all interested in music. 
He won the heart of the musical public as a child, and 
then did what comparatively few child prodigies 
succeed in doing when they grow up: he retained it. 
His boyhood triumphs made him one of the world's 
greatest box-office attractions, and although as an adult 
he has far more rivals than in former years, he can still 
be relied upon to draw a larger audience than most 
concert halls can accommodate. 

He was born in New York on 22 April 1916, of 
Jewish parents. His father was born in Russia, but 
lived in Palestine for a while until he went to America 
as a teacher in a Jewish school in New York. Before 
Yehudi was a year old the little family moved to San 
Francisco, for his father had accepted an appointment 
there as head of a Hebrew educational organisation. 

A story of his childhood tells us that when he was 
about three years old his unusual sensitivity to music 
induced a friend of the family to buy him a toy fiddle. 
Little Yehudi already considered himself to be too old 
for toys and scornfully refused to have anything to do 
with it. The friend then thrust it into his hands and asked 
him to play it "like a good little fellow". Whereupon 
Yehudi threw it angrily to the floor and stamped upon 

This incident brought him a real violin on his fourth 
birthday, and Sigmund Anker was called in to give him 
lessons. No music pupil could have been more eager to 



iearn than little Yehudi, and within eighteen months 
he was sufficiently advanced to go to Louis Persinger of 
the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. He never 
seemed to weary of practising, and the progress he made 
was such that, after playing in various private houses, he 
was sought out to give public recitals. These were of 
course minor affairs, but greater things were in store, 
and he was only seven when he made his debut with 
the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. An audience 
of 9,000 gathered to hear him play the Mendelssohn 
Concerto and were almost staggered by his amazing 

As a result of this triumph he was invited to play 
in New York, and appeared at the Manhattan Opera 
House. His real debut there, however, did not take 
place until he was ten years old. Then he was given 
the honour of playing the Beethoven Concerto at Carnegie 
Hall with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra 
conducted by Fritz Busch. On this occasion he used 
not the twelve-dollar instrument that had been his 
first love, but a three-quarter sized Grancino reputed 
to be dated 1695 and worth over 10,000 dollars. Owing 
to the smallness of his hands he was at that time unable 
to tune it, and he had to pass it to the leader of the 
orchestra two or three times for this purpose. 

When the concerto started everybody's eyes were 
trained upon the little boy in velvet breeches and white 
shirt with short sleeves. He stood so quietly and 
unconcerned during the tutti that many people 
including members of the orchestra felt that he would 
miss his entry. Surely this diminutive figure could not 
match his skill with that of all these highly-trained 
adult players? It seemed impossible. He would 
probably continue to stand there and do nothing, 
finally to run off the platform with a look of bewilder- 
ment in his eyes. His entry came nearer and nearer, 
and at the last moment only a few bars before he was 
due to start he nonchalantly raised his fiddle and 


started his gigantic task with all the self-assurance in 
the world. 

It was a memorable occasion. He played like a 
virtuoso with thirty years' experience behind him. At 
the finish the audience found that mere clapping would 
not adequately express their feelings: cheer after cheer 
broke out, and several hundreds of the 3,000 present 
rose to their feet. Tears streamed from the eyes of old 
ladies, and after the first acknowledgment of the 
applause, Fritz Busch came down from his rostrum, 
took Yehudi in his arms and kissed him. 

Olin Downes, the well-known American critic, 
said that he knew as soon as Yehudi's bow touched the 
strings that his performance would be an exceptionally 
intelligent one. Writing in the New York Times he 
reported : 

"Menuhin has a technic that is not only brilliant 
but finely tempered. It is not a technic of tricks, 
but one much more solidly established, and governed 
by innate sensitiveness and taste. It seems ridiculous 
to say that he showed a mature conception of 
Beethoven's Concerto, but that is the fact. Few 
violinists of years and experience, known to the 
public, have played Beethoven with as true a feeling 
for his form and content, with such a healthy, noble, 
but unexaggerated sentiment, with such poetic feeling 
in the slow movement and unforced humor in the 

Menuhin's interpretation of the Beethoven Concerto 
was no doubt the result of his two years' study in 
Europe with Georges Enesco and Adolph Busch. He 
had also played in Paris with the Lamoureux Orchestra 
and gained some very valuable experience, so this 
enormous success in New York was not a surprise to 
many of his friends. At his Berlin debut in 1929 he 
played both the Beethoven and the Brahms concertos 
with such feeling that many people said they had heard 
nothing like it since the days of Joachim. When 


Yehudi walked off the platform he was met by Albert 
Einstein, 1 who said that his playing had proved to 
him that there was a God in Heaven. 

His debut in England took place shortly afterwards 
at the Queen's Hall, and this was followed by a recital 
in the Albert Hall, On both occasions his success was 
quite sensational. 

A similar triumph took place on 14 November 
1931 when at Leipzig Menuhin played with the famous 
Gewandhaus Orchestra at the great concert held to 
celebrate the isoth anniversary of its foundation. After 
the Mendelssohn Concerto, the conductor, Bruno Walter, 
described his playing as a miracle and said that the boy 
possessed genius of the highest order. This was the fiist 
time in the history of the Gewandhaus Orchestra that 
an encore was permitted: the audience were so persistent 
in their demand that they would not allow the pro- 
gramme to continue unless the "wonder boy" could 
play again. The concert was followed by a splendid 
banquet at which many of Germany's leading musicians, 
artists and scientists paid tribute to their young guest. 

Some idea of the affection that was felt for Yehudi 
in musical and high social circles during his travels 
may be gained from the fact that when he was taken 
ill in Brussels, the late Queen Astrid commanded her 
own physicians to attend him, and cared for him as if 
he had been her own child. 

For all that, the world's greatest conductor, 
Toscanini, would at one time have nothing to do with 
Menuhin. He heartily detested all child prodigies, 
having for years been pestered by ambitious parents, 
and would not consent to hear or even meet the lad. 
Adolph Busch tried again and again to persuade him 
to make an exception to his rule of ignoring all ap- 
proaches from the representatives of child musicians, 

x Not Alfred Einstein (the German musicologist) as some people 


and it took him over two years to convince the famous 
conductor that Menuhin was worthy of his attention. 
One day, Yehudi was rehearsing a concerto quite a 
routine affair and was taking no notice of the few 
odd people standing at the back of the hall. After all, 
at every rehearsal there are people connected with 
either the orchestra or the management of the hall who 
like to look in and see how things are going. He there- 
fore made no special effort to impress them. To his 
astonishment, therefore, he had scarcely finished the 
last note of the concerto when he found himself taken 
up and kissed by an excited gentleman pouring forth 
superlatives in Italian. It was Toscanini : and from that 
day the maestro and the youthful artist have been the 
firmest of friends. Some time later, they went for a trip 
together and Toscanini had to listen to his young friend 
practising every day for hours on end. Those who know 
anything about the celebrated conductor's temperament 
will marvel at the fact that not a word of complaint 
came from him. When somebody asked him about it 
afterwards, Toscanini said that he had heard more good 
music on that trip than ever before in his life. 

Another well-known little story about the two 
friends is of an occasion when Yehudi was playing the 
solo part of a Mozart concerto to him in private. Sud- 
denly, the telephone bell rang. Toscanini immediately 
jumped up, tore it from the wall, and having silenced 
it for good by dragging out the wires, settled himself 
once again with the remark that now, perhaps, they 
could enjoy the music undisturbed. 

Menuhin has, of course, been privileged to enjoy 
the acquaintance of many distinguished musicians, but 
one whose friendship he particularly treasured was Sir 
Edward Elgar. Yehudi was only fifteen when they 
first met: he had been asked to make a recording of the 
Elgar Violin Concerto and was anxious that the composer 
should hear his interpretation of it before undertaking 
this important commission. It was arranged that he 


should play it with piano accompaniment on a certain 
Saturday afternoon. He visited the great composer on 
the appointed day expecting to do anything up to ten 
or twelve hours' hard work, for he did not know that 
it took more than music to keep Elgar indoors on a 
beautiful summer's day. They started the concerto in 
the great man's study, but after the first page or two 
Elgar stopped them and said he was confident that the 
concerto would be all right in Menuhin's hands : it was 
such a lovely day, and the races were on. . . . 

Shortly afterwards, Menuhin played this concerto 
under the composer's own direction: it was an experience 
he will never forget. Elgar seemed really inspired, and 
everybody played with a fervour that only the presence 
of a genius can engender. The concerto has been one 
of Menuhin's specialities ever since. 

The young violinist was also a personal friend of 
the late Bela Bartok whose violin concerto he interpreted 
so perfectly that in 1944 the composer wrote his 
famous Sonata for unaccompanied violin expressly for 
him as a tribute. Menuhin gave the premiere of this 
at Carnegie Hall, New York, and later brought it to 
England to play it at one of his Albert Hall recitals. 

We must now go back some years to mention 
the tours of Europe and the western half of America 
that Menuhin made during the years 1928-9. One of 
the most outstanding concerts of this period was when 
he played the Bach, Beethoven and Brahms concertos 
in a single evening with the Berlin Philharmonic 
Orchestra under Bruno Walter. 

Those were years when his general education had 
also to be considered, and in order that he should have 
sufficient time for study and relaxation, Menuhin was 
allowed to accept no more than two public engagements 
a week. He generally averaged about fifty during a 

It was in 1930 that his sister Hephzibah began to 


appear with him. She was born at San Francisco in 
1920 and is an accomplished pianist, a pupil of Marcel 
Ciampi. Her debut was made at the age of eight in 
San Francisco, and although the general public knew 
little of her before 1930, she had often accompanied 
her brother at private recitals. A few years ago she 
married Lindsay Nicholas, a young Australian farmer. 
Menuhin has also a younger sister, Yaltah, who 
frequently joins him in chamber music, being also a 
fine musician. It is said that she has literary incli- 

In 1935 Yehudi Menuhin made his first world tour, 
visiting over sixty cities in over a dozen countries, 
including Australia and New Zealand. Then he 
withdrew from public life entirely for nearly two 
years in order to study, to overhaul and vastly extend 
his repertoire. Most of that period was spent on a 
ranch in the Santa Cruz mountains, not far from Los 
Gatos, California, a large and pleasant estate owned 
by his parents. 

When he reappeared, towards the end of 1937, and 
made another world tour he was a mature artist in 
every sense of the word: people spoke of him as one of 
the greatest living masters of the violin. His studies 
had convinced him of the value of several neglected 
works, as, for instance, the so-called "Lost" Violin 
Concerto in D minor of Schumann. This work, 
especially, he included in several of his programmes, 
thereby winning the approval of many of the critics. 
The Strad 1 declared that he must be given the credit 
for having "released that historically missing link 
between the concertos of Beethoven and Brahms from 
the library stacks to which the mysterious will of 
Joachim had doomed it." 

Again, it was Menuhin who discovered that Mozart 
had specified the use of the mute in the second move- 
ment of his third concerto (G major) . 
1 March, 1939. 


In May 1938 he was married in London to Nola 
Nicholas of Australia, sister of Lindsay Nicholas, who 
was later to marry Hephzibah Menuhin. This marriage 
was recently dissolved, and on Sunday 19 October 1947 
he married Diana Gould, a ballerina, daughter of 
Admiral Sir Cecil and Lady Harcourt, at Chelsea 
Register Office while he was on a concert tour in 
this country. 

Menuhin is a robust young man, a picture of good 
physique, and is keen on outdoor recreations. See him 
riding in California and you would scarcely believe 
that he was a professional musician. He loves camping 
in the woods, swimming, cycling, walking and driving 
his powerful car. Yet he is intellectually accomplished 
as well: he can read and speak five languages, converse 
upon art and politics, and hold his own in any company. 
His literary taste reveals an unusually high standard 
of intelligence. 

To those who meet him for the first time he gives 
the impression of being rather reserved. He is singularly 
modest about his achievements and it is almost impos- 
sible to get him to talk about his successes in the conceit 
hall in fact he does not discuss music to any great 
extent except, perhaps, with Toscanini, who is still 
his idol. Menuhin displays none of those silly signs of 
"temperament" that some musicians believe to be 
impressive ; he is indeed a most placid young man and 
never seems to worry about anything. Statistics from 
the box-office mean nothing to him, His tastes are 
simple, and the extravagance of some of the other 
highly-paid musicians would appal him. This is perhap 
due to his careful upbringing; his parents never spoilt 
him, despite the huge income he made, in fact his 
father, who used to manage his affairs, is reported to 
have said that Yehudi did not possess a current account 
at the bank until he reached the age of twenty- 


During the Second World War Yehudi Menuhin 
made many tours in aid of war charities, some of them 
taking him as far afield as Australia. For the same 
cause he toured America in 1941 and crossed to England 
in 1943. In one year alone he made over 75,000 dollars 
for refugees. 1 He made an exciting tour of war areas 
in 1944 playing to the troops, and is proud to claim 
that he was the first artist to play in the Paris Opera 
House after the liberation of France. Recent perform- 
ances in England have included an appearance at the 
Albert Hall on 26 June, 1945, when he played the 
Beethoven and the Bach E major concertos as well as 
the Vieuxtemps in D minor. The Beethoven and Bach 
were both played exquisitely, but the Vieuxtemps fell a 
little short of expectations, as did his performance of 
the Dvorak Concerto on 15 June 1946 (BBC Music 
Festival). At the Promenade conceit on 27 August 1946 
he won a great ovation although he was still not quite 
up to his usual standard. In the following year, however, 
his performances in this country were impeccable. 

Menuhin can produce from his fiddle a tone unparal- 
leled in the history of the violin: for cleanliness, smooth- 
ness and quality generally it is comparable with that of 
Heifetz, but is considerably warmer. His style is capable 
of seemingly innumerable variations, and technically 
difficult works simply do not worry him at all. The 
Bartok Concerto, which is considered to be one of the 
most difficult we possess, he plays with incredible ease. 

His art is still developing, and he will not always 
interpret a work in exactly the same way. He was 
once told that he had played a Mozart sonata differently 
than on the previous occasion, and he at once admitted 
it, saying that his feeling for it had changed somewhat. 

When preparing a work he goes over it several 
times, reading it mentally before he touches his fiddle, 
because he likes to listen to the sounds created by his 

1 It is reported that during the entire course of the War he 
raised well over five million, dollars for various war charities. 


imagination as his eye travels across the page. He 
always insists on playing from a first edition, and has 
some sharp things to say about editors who try to 
"improve" the classics. Toscanini and Enesco have 
been the most influential musicians in his conception 
of the works of the old masters, and he is always trying 
to repair the damage done to some of the more popular 
works by "clever" editors and those who are stupid 
enough to allow themselves to be misled by such 
vandals. He is not at all impressed by showy "virtuoso 
music", by the way, although he occasionally plays it 
in response to requests. 

Among his collection of fiddles is the famous 
Khevenhueller Strad, which was not included in Hill's 
catalogue because it was in Russia for many years 
unknown to the connoisseurs. It was made over 200 
years ago for Princess Khevenhueller of Austria and 
has been played by only four people since: Bohin, 
Joachim, Popoff and Menuhin, to whom it was given 
as a present for his twelfth birthday by one of his 
admirers in New York: Henry Goldman. It is worth 
over 20,000 to-day. 

Menuhin's recordings are treasured by millions of 
violinists all over the world, and are used by hundreds 
of teachers in the instruction of budding soloists. Worthy 
of special mention are the Mozart Concerto No. 3 
with the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris, the Dvordk 
Concerto in A minor made with the Orchestre des 
Concerts de la Societe du Conservatoire, the Bach 
No. i in A minor, the E major and the Lalo Symphonie 
Espagnole with the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris, 
and the Mendelssohn Concerto with the Orchestre des 
Concerts Colonnes. All these were conducted by 
Georges Enesco. 

Under Sir Malcolm Sargent, Menuhin recorded the 
Mozart Concerto in D major with the Liverpool 
Philharmonic Orchestra, but in this the solo part seems 


rather too restrained. Of special interest is his recording 
of the Elgar concerto tinder the composer's own direc- 
tion with the London Symphony Orchestra; and both 
Memihin and his master, Enesco, can be heard in the 
Bach Concerto in D minor for two violins made under 
the direction of Pierre Monteux. Menuhin has also 
recorded the Bruch Concerto No. i in G minor with 
the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir 
Landon Ronald and the Paganini Concerto No. i in 
D with the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris under 
the direction of Monteux. The latter gives a good display 
of his fine technique, but his expression can be better 
appreciated in such a work (admittedly a minor one) 
as the Hebraic Abodah (Bloch), a recent recording. 


MILSTEIN was born on 31 December 1904 at 
Odessa, Russia, the birthplace of many of the world's 
greatest musicians, including two gifted pianists well 
known in this country. 

As a boy he was keenly interested in music and did 
very well indeed with a local music teacher, Stoliarsky, 
during his schooldays. Deciding to make it his profession, 
he sought admission to the St. Petersburg Conservatoire, 
and was particularly gratified when he was given the 
honour of studying with two of the finest violinists of 
the day: Leopold Auer and Eugene Ysaye. The Great 
War was then in progress, but the effect of this was at 
the time less disastrous than that of the Revolution, for 
this drove most of Russia's leading musicians out of the 
country. Milstein, however, chose to remain, and the 
departure of the "great names" in music eventually 
proved to his advantage, for he was soon to seek public 

Despite his undoubted talent, his early struggles 
were probably as arduous as those of any young artist 
of the present day more so, in fact, for there were far 
fewer opportunities. Nevertheless, as soon as he left 
the Conservatoire he was able to get sufficient public 
engagements to maintain himself, so his professional 
career started forthwith. 

Conditions in Russia were then appalling, and 
Milstein must have wondered on several occasions 
whether it was worth while going on. It was only the 
enthusiasm and gratitude of those music-lovers who 



were able to attend his concerts that made him persevere, 
though it is true that he was encouraged when in 1922 
he met another brilliant young musician who was 
encountering the same difficulties. This was that 
amazing pianist Vladimir Horowitz, who was a few 
months older than Milstein and had just completed his 
course at the Kiev Conservatoire. The young violinist 
had been present at his debut and had felt so convinced 
that Horowitz would rise quickly to fame that he sug- 
gested that they could perhaps tour together. Horowitz 
welcomed the idea, and they gave many concerts 
together, making a most favourable impression upon 
music-lovers wherever they went. 

Because of difficulties in Russia, Milstein left that 
country in 1925 and proceeded first to Brussels where 
he sought instruction from Eugene Ysaye. But when 
this great master heard him play he said "There is 
nothing I can teach you that you do not know already 55 , 
so the ambitious young violinist moved on to Paris. 
He arrived in the French capital unknown, with no 
money, very little music, and worst of all no fiddle. 
The only thing to do was to make as many contacts as 
possible and hope for the best. This unenviable task 
did bring him several new friends, however, and in 
time his great skill and deep devotion to music prevailed : 
one of Ms admirers offered to put up the money for a 
public concert, another offered to lend him a Strad, 
and thus he was able to make his debut. Several critics 
were present at this concert and their favourable reports 
began to arouse considerable interest in musical circles. 
Various offers of further engagements came in during 
the ensuing weeks, including one from Spain, where he 
was immediately successful, and as Milstein became 
better known the demands for his services increased 
accordingly. Then came a tour of South America, and 
within two years he was recognized in half-a-dozen 
European countries as one of the rising violinists of 
the day. 


It was undoubtedly his astonishing technique that 
brought him the honours in those days, for his interpreta- 
tions were considered by some critics to be a trifle 
"raw". Fortunately, success never went to his head, 
and he was wise enough to learn from those who 
criticized his work intelligently. As a result, a few years 
on the concert platform made a world of difference to 
his style: his somewhat boisterous manner of playing 
became tempered, and although he will probably 
always be regarded as a violinist of the more vigorous 
type, he did, in those early days of public life, develop 
quickly into a very polished artist. 

On his first visit to the United States in 1929, 
Milstein had the good fortune to meet Stokowski, who 
was immediately impressed by the young violinist's 
technique and arranged for him to make his American 
debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Stokowski 
conducted, of course, and this great success put Milstein 
on his feet in the United States, the country in which he 
was to settle. He toured America and Canada every 
year until 1939, and became a naturalized American 
in 1943. 

Milstein has never lacked admirers in Great Britain, 
and in more recent years, especially, we have come to 
regard him as one of the greatest of the celebrities who 
visit us from time to time. It is true that some people 
do not care for his style, but they are generally to be 
found among those who dislike the vigorous "school" 
of violinists. Milstein's playing would lose much of its 
character if he dissociated himself from this school of 
thought, and it would be a pity if he did so, for he 
enjoys spirited and strenuous music: it suits his technique. 
Many of his greatest successes have been in the perform- 
ance of some of the most exacting works in the repertoire 
of the violin. He has played under almost every 
world-famous conductor, including Toscanini, Karl 
Muck, Bruno Walter, Furtwangler, Mengelberg and 


An interesting criticism of his playing is to be found 
in a report of one of his concerts made by a member 
of the Musical Times staff in the November 1936 issue 
of that august journal: 

"To hear Nathan Milstein play eighteenth- 
century violin sonatas at his reappearance at Wigmore 
Hall on 22 October was to discover a new pleasure 
in chamber music. With Leopold Mittmann at the 
piano he gave Vivaldi's Sonata in A major with a 
fire and precision that fairly caught one's breath, 
just because it breathed life into music that until 
now had seemed to be dry bones. This was the 
Vivaldi whom Bach admired: not that pedagogue 
in whose likeness most people present the old Venetian. 
And when Milstein came to play Bach's own Sonata 
in G minor for violin and piano alone, he maintained 
the fire, adding to it dignity and tenderness. He has 
the strength, mental and physical, for this music, 
and a supple turn of speed that belongs to youth. 
One is accustomed by now to hearing fine technicians. 
Each has his special virtues. Milstein excels in the 
perfection of his playing of arpeggio passages of all 
kinds: his performance of the Presto in Bach's G 
minor was perfection itself. His Beethoven was less 
satisfying, not because anything was amiss with the 
execution but because some of Beethoven's thoughts 
even in so open a sonata as the G major for violin 
and piano, Opus 30 are still to Milstein a closed 
book.'\ _ 

This criticism of Milstein's Beethoven might, perhaps, 
be disputed, but it is true that in the opinion of some 
of his admirers, his style is not particularly suited to 
certain works of this great composer. His interpretations 
are, on the whole, most enlightened, for he makes a 
profound study of all the music he plays, and of the lives 
of the composers concerned. Incidentally, he reads 
deeply on the other arts as well, and is quite a good 
painter in water-colours. 


National Concert & Artists" Cr#. 






His interpretation of the Brahms Concerto is always 
most satisfying, and gives one a very good idea of has 
musicianly qualities. This concerto was played by him 
at the Albert Hall during his visit to this country in 1947, 
and there must have been few in his large audience 
who were not thrilled by his intensely sincere and 
accurate rendering which, one felt, brought out all 
the grandeur and nobility of this famous concerto. 

Other concertos in his repertoire of which he is 
particularly fond are the Mozart, Mendelssohn, Tchai- 
kovsky, Glazounov and Dvorak. In his recital pro- 
grammes he invariably includes an unaccompanied 
Bach Partita and frequently two or more of the Paganini 
Caprices, besides sonatas of Beethoven, Brahms, 
Prokofiev, etc. 

One of the recent additions to his extensive repertoire 
has been the Stravinsky Concerto, of which he gave a 
truly remarkable performance in New York with the 
Philadelphia Orchestra under Ormandy a few years 

During the Second World War, Milstein served as 
Chairman of the National Committee of Concert 
Artists for the U.S. Treasury's War Bond Campaign, 
and spent much of his time in giving recitals in support 
of the campaign. 

In private Hfe, he is a rich personality, well read and 
keenly interested in many outdoor activities. He loves 
walking, climbing, swimming, motoring and even 
cycling. Switzerland is a country that never fails in 
its appeal to him, and he always tries to visit it during 
the summer if possible with his very old friend 
Horowitz. He plays a good game of both lawn and 
table tennis. 

For many years, Milstein played the Dancla^ 
Strad, but in 1944 he acquired the famous "Monasterio" 
Strad. The latter was used by him in public for the 
first time to celebrate the Allied Victory. Towards the 


end of 1946 he bought yet another Strad, the so-called 
"Ex-Goldmann" (dated 1716), which was hidden in 
Europe throughout the Second World War, and which 
he has renamed the "Maria Therese", after the names 
of his wife and daughter. According to Hill, it is one 
of the finest Strads in existence. Milstein generally 
uses a Tourte bow, of which he has several excellent 


GINETTE NEVEU 'S sweeping successes dur- 
ing her earlier visits to England are still vivid in the 
memories of thousands of music lovers : everybody liked 
this unassuming French girl, and it was difficult to 
restrain one's use of superlatives when describing her 
genius for interpretation, for it was this rather than her 
impeccable technique that put her in the front rank 
of contemporary violinists. Fine technicians, after all, 
are less of a rarity these days, but it is seldom that one 
finds a young violinist with so marked a gift for getting 
to the very soul of the music for understanding the 
emotions that caused the composer to put pen to paper. 
Soon after her triumphs in England, Ginette Neveu 
embarked upon an extensive tour of America, and the 
reception that she is getting there as this book goes to 
press is further proof that she is destined to become one 
of the few really great violinists of the century. 

She was born in Paris on 11 August 1919 and was 
blessed with a musical environment from the beginning 
of her life. Her mother, who was her first teacher, was 
a well-known violinist and professor of music, while 
her father, though only an amateur, was sufficiently 
accomplished on the fiddle to take part in all the music- 
making that went on at home. And here we must also 
make the acquaintance of her talented brother, Jean, 
who was later to become an excellent pianist and his 
sister's favourite accompanist. 

Ginette Neveu began her study of the violin at the 
age of five, and taking her music very seriously, made 



astonishing progress. She was little more than seven 
when she had the honour of appearing in the great 
amphitheatre of the Sorbonne with the Colonne 
Orchestra under the direction of Gabriel Pierne. 

She continued her studies, and a few years later 
went to the Paris Conservatoire, where for twelve 
months she worked under Jules Boucherit. After that, 
she became a pupil of the late Carl Flesch, for whom 
she had the greatest admiration. 

It was before the end of the Second World War 
immediately after the liberation of Paris that she 
first came to England : a comparatively unknown 
French girl who had never before played outside her 
native land. With the French conductor, Roger 
Desormieres, she made a fairly extensive tour of this 
country and became such a favourite artist that she 
was asked to make no fewer than eight return visits 
during the ensuing year or two. With her brother Jean, 
she gave a large number of recitals and also appeared 
at many orchestral concerts under such conductors as 
Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Walter Siisskind, 
Basil Cameron, Charles Munch and Issay Dobrowen. 
"England is a wonderful country for music," she 
declares, cc and in this art she is leading the world. I 
have been very happy to meet a great number of your 
young artists, and I believe that England has some very 
great composers at the present time William Walton 
and Benjamin Britten especially. I have been particu- 
larly impressed by the fact that your audiences are not 
only cultivated from the classical point of view but are 
genuinely anxious to hear new works and to understand 
new tendencies in music. The English orchestras, 
particularly the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Halle, 
and the London Philharmonic, are among the finest 
in the world, and your recordings are the most perfect 
I have heard. 

"Not only do I owe the English my deepest gratitude 
for having been the first to invite me to a foreign country, 


but I consider that music now holds such an important 
position in England that no artist could establish an 
international reputation without having appeared in 
your fine country." 

Ginette Neveu has now enjoyed great successes in 
several other countries, her most important appearances, 
up to the time of writing, having been in Vienna (with 
the Philharmonique), Copenhagen (Staatsradiofonien), 
Stockholm and Amsterdam (Concertgebouw), Boston 
(with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Serge 
Koussevitzky) and New York (with the Philharmonic- 
Symphony Orchestra conducted by Charles Munch.) 
She has, of course, also played several times in Paris 
with the Societe des Concerts du Conservatoire. 

She frequently gives sonata recitals with her brother 
Jean, who studied the piano at the Paris Conservatoire 
under the eminent Yves Nat, and who invariably acts as 
her accompanist when she plays purely solo works. Her 
preferences in music, by the way, are for Bach, Brahms 
and Beethoven, but she also makes a very conscientious 
study of contemporary music* Her fiddle is a lovely 
Stradivarius dated 1730, and she always uses Pirastro 

Her principles in music she summarizes thus : 
"Uart fun artiste est de toujours crier Us oeuwres mattresses 
de la litterature musicale et ^instrument dont il se sert riest 
qu'un moyen d*acceder a ce but" 

She is interested in literature, painting, social 
problems and, generally speaking, all that represents 
a spiritual life in this world. To her, the other arts are 
not merely recreations in the popular sense of the word, 
for in her life "everything is recreation/' 

At the time of writing, many of the best recordings 
she has made in this country have yet to be issued, 
but of those now available, her fine recording of the 
Sibelius Concerto in D minor made with Walter 
Siisskind and the Philharmonia Orchestra is the most 


important, though there is splendid playing in some of 
the smaller pieces, notably the Danse Espagnole of 
Manuel de Falla, the Hora Staccato by the Roumanian 
composer Dinicu, and the Four Pieces by the late Josef 

Ginette Neveu has made many friends in this country, 
all of whom have testified to her warm-heartedness 
and delightful sense of humour. She is quite without 
affectation, and makes no show of what some people 
fondly imagine to be "artistic temperament". She has 
a strongly marked personality which does not, however, 
obscure that of the composers whose work she plays. 

NOTE. As the second impression of this book was in the hands of the printers ; 
news was received of the sudden death of Ginette Neveu and her brother Jean 
in an air crash on San Miguel Island in the Azores early on Friday, 28th 
October, 1949. When her body was found it was observed that her Stradwarius 
her most precious possession was clutched tightly in her arms. The violin, 
though broken, had not been burned. 


MOST people seem to be under the impression that 
Jean Pougnet is a Frenchman; indeed it has been stated 
several times that he was born in Paris, but this is quite 
incorrect. He is of French ancestry, it is true, and speaks 
the language perfectly, but even his parents were British 
subjects; in fact his father held a civil service appoint- 
ment on the island of Mauritius, where Jean was born 
in 1907. His father was an excellent pianist, by the 
way, and frequently gave lessons to local residents 
aspiring to play that instrument. 

The family moved to this country when Jean was 
two years of age. His aptitude for music was discovered 
by his sister Marcelle, who gave him his first lessons 
on the violin when he was about seven, and his general 
interest in the art was no doubt encouraged by the 
activities of his brother Rene, an able pianist. 

It so happened that they lived opposite that eminent 
teacher Rowsby Woof, and because Jean seemed 
unusually promising his sister took him across to their 
neighbour and asked if anything could be done for the 
boy. Woof was certainly impressed by Jean's playing 
and accepted him as a private pupil. In due course- 
when he was eleven he won a scholarship to the 
Royal Academy of Music, where he studied for the next 
seven years. 

Jean Pougnet's first public appearance was when he 
was in his twelfth year: he played a variety of pieces 
at the King's Hall, Covent Garden. But of far greater 
importance, of course, was the recital he gave at the 



Wigmore Hall just before his sixteenth birthday: this 
was a great success artistically, and led to his appearance, 
shortly afterwards, at a Promenade concert. 

While he was at the Academy, Pougnet had an 
excellent quartet and did an extensive amount of 
chamber music as well as occasional solo performances. 
But he finished his academic training at a time when it 
was far from easy for a young musician to make a living 
exclusively in "straight" music, and for the first few 
years of his career he had the moral courage to pocket 
his pride and earn honest guineas by doing solo work 
for a few of the leading dance bands. It should be 
emphasized here that Pougnet is no snob : he has always 
enjoyed good dance music, and is absolutely sincere 
in his belief that the better class of dance band serves 
a useful purpose both socially and artistically. Few 
people realize what a high standard of musicianship is 
possessed by some of the better type of dance musicians. 
During this period of his career he was building up a 
considerable classical repertoire, and frequently gave 
recitals at the Wigmore Hall. 

As soon as he felt sufficiently well established in 
* 'straight" music, Pougnet abandoned his work for the 
dance bands and undertook a variety of engagements : 
solo recitals, concertos, chamber music, broadcasts, 
recordings, and even went as far afield as the film studios 
to make recordings for screen productions. His broad- 
cast trios with William Primrose and Anthony Pini 
were particularly good. 

At the outbreak of the Second World War he was 
chosen to lead that very select little band of players 
known as the BBC Salon Orchestra; a fine ensemble 
that did excellent work until its dissolution later in the 
war years. Then, in 1942, he accepted an appointment 
that was to make him a familiar and greatly admired 
figure in every concert hall in the country: the leader- 
ship of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. From that 
time until the fall of Germany he led this stout-hearted 


body of players through all the vicissitudes of those 
difficult years. The story of their experiences as they 
went up and down the country taking music and 
cheer to war-weary civilians and service people has 
been told elsewhere 1 . 

In December 1945, J ean Pougnet bade farewell to 
his colleagues and embarked upon a career as a soloist. 
He had for some time been experiencing an increasing 
demand for his solo services,, and as the building up of 
a virtuoso's repertoire these days is a formidable task, 
he felt compelled to make a clean break so that the 
whole of his time could be devoted to solo work. He 
still retains his interest in chamber music, of course, 
and it is to be hoped that we shall still hear him quite 
frequently in small ensembles. 

Pougnet is undoubtedly one of the most brilliant of 
the younger school of violinists and unless we encounter 
another of those musical slumps that play havoc among 
the lives of musicians, he would appear to have a fairly 
easy road to fame. Technical difficulties do not seem 
to perplex him at all notice how easily he sweeps through 
the extremely difficult last movement of the Delius 
concerto and his style has a refinement that the more 
discriminating type of listener is bound to appreciate. 
It is quite an individual style: light, fastidious and 
restrained, and very pleasant in a wide range of works. 
Moreover, he has a reputation for accuracy and 
possesses a good sense of rhythm. 

Of his recordings the best are perhaps the Bach 
Double Concerto for two violins, made with Arthur 
Grumiaux and the Philharmonia String Orchestra 
conducted by Walter Siisskind with Dr. Boris Ord of 
King's College, Cambridge, at the harpsichord; and 
his fine recording of the Delius Concerto made with 

briefly in my Conductors* Gallery^ and in more detail in the 
interesting publications of the Orchestra's able secretary, Mr. 
Thomas Russell, 


the new Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir 
Thomas Beecham. The former was made for Columbia; 
the latter for H.M.V. under the auspices of the Delius 
Trust. But because of its considerable merit mention 
must also be made of the Trio in G by E. J. Moeran 
(recorded with Frederick Riddle, viola, and Anthony 
Pini, 'cello). 

Pougnet is an "idealist to the last degree" to quote 
his own words, and has no narrow-minded prejudices 
concerning music. He is interested in everything that 
is worth playing and is a keen student of modern music. 
He made a very good impression a year or so ago at a 
Covent Garden concert in the Bloch concerto, for 
instance, and recently gave the first English performance 
of a concerto by Richard Arnell. At the time of writing, 
two of our contemporary composers are engaged upon 
works that will be dedicated to him. 

In person, he is very pleasant, and modest in the 
extreme. He dislikes talking about himself and even 
tends to under-estimate the value of the great experience 
he gained as an orchestral player. He is rarely to be 
seen in London unless he has a definite engagement, 
for his spare time is generally spent in study or recreation 
at his home on the Sussex coast. He was married in 1929 
to Frances Lois, a Londoner, and has no children; 
the third member of the little family being an immensely 
lovable Great Dane, to which both Jean and his wife 
are quite devoted. 

When Pougnet requires some diversion from his 
fiddle a very fine Januarus Gagliano, by the way 
he generally turns to something mechanical. He is 
clever at contriving all manner of gadgets and is a most 
useful "man about the house". He never seems to worry 
about his hands, and if you were to pay him an unexpec- 
ted visit you would probably find him working hard 
in his garden or sawing up the branches of a recently- 
lopped tree. On the platform he is apt to give the 


impression of being a very fastidious young man, but 
at home he is as unassuming and domesticated as any 
suburban husband. 


TO those who are interested in the art of violin playing, 
the name of Max Rostal means more than that of a 
virtuoso: it is a name associated with what one might 
describe as a "movement" in the art, for the ideas and 
ideals of this enlightened artist are being carried into the 
world of music by an ever-increasing circle of musicians 
who either were, or still are, his enthusiastic students. 

Max Rostal was born in Austria in 1905 and started 
to play the violin at the age of five. A year later he 
gave his first public concert, which was the beginning 
of a career as an infant prodigy. He toured a large 
number of towns in Central Europe and frequently 
had the honour of playing at the Austrian Court. 

His first serious course of study was with Professor 
Rose in Vienna, but at the age of thirteen he went to 
Carl Flesch. Four years with this master enabled him 
to make his debut as an adult musician at the age of 
seventeen and he was then given plenty of opportunities 
of touring in most European countries. He was only 
about twenty when he won the Mendelssohn Prize at 
the International Competition held in Berlin. 

Even in those early days he was keenly interested 
in teaching and readily accepted an invitation to become 
the official assistant to Carl Flesch in Berlin. This 
appointment he held until he was nominated to a 
professorship at the State Academy of Music in Berlin 
in 1929. As far as his official duties permitted he 
continued to give regular concerts and he was able to 
undertake several tours, 



He bitterly resented the Nazi Party's intervention 
in cultural affairs and early in 1934 found himself 
dismissed from office in the company of many other 
distinguished musicians, including Schnabel, Hindemith 
and Feuermann. As he had several friends in England 
he came to London with a number of his pupils, 
determined to start afresh, and in time succeeded in 
establishing himself, though not without some difficulty, 
of course. He found us very reserved at first, but he 
soon got to understand our mentality and has since been 
acclaimed enthusiastically by audiences and friends 
alike. Of the British audiences he is especially apprecia- 
tive: he delights in the faithfulness they show to all 
good musicians. 

Since his arrival in this country he has played with 
all the leading symphony orchestras and done a great 
deal of broadcasting. His recording of the complete 
set of Beethoven violin sonatas for Decca is yet another 
of his outstanding undertakings. He continued to live 
in London throughout the air raids and the flying bomb 
and rocket attacks, and also visited many of the 
provincial cities suffering from aerial bombardment to 
give recitals and concerts. It will perhaps be recalled 
that on Derby station one Saturday evening during 
the blackout he fell over a mailbag when running for a 
train and broke a rib. 1 This put him out of action for 
four weeks. 

His teaching remains an important part of his 
activity and it is appropriate that he has been appointed 
a Professor and Fellow of the Guildhall School of Music* 
A much wider field of opportunity, however, has 
recently been opened to him by the invitation he has 
received from the BBC to give talks in the series 
"Studies in Interpretation and Style" in the Third 
Programme, and many a musician who might never 
have the opportunity of studying with him in London 
has been able to learn something of his ideas. 
*Not a wrist as several newspapers reported. 


Another interesting branch of Max RostaPs activity 
is the editing and arranging of music, and research 
work on seventeenth and eighteenth century music. 
It was while he was thus engaged that he discovered 
the manuscript of a work by Tartini that had never 
been published. This he was able to arrange for 
publication (Novello), after which he gave the first 
performance of it. 

Rostal has never been very happy about using the 
existing cadenzas in the Beethoven concerto, and it 
occurred to him some time ago when he was looking 
through Beethoven's unfortunate piano arrangement of 
the work that he could transcribe for violin the cadenzas 
which the composer had added for the piano version. 
This he did, and the result was most gratifying. These 
cadenzas were then published by Boosey & Hawkes, so 
it is now possible for any violinist to play the concerto 
with cadenzas written by Beethoven himself. Rostal 
invariably plays them whenever he performs this 
concerto in public. 

In the music of his contemporaries, Max Rostal 
takes the keenest interest, and he has had the honour of 
performing many English works for the first time. These 
include the concerto by Bernard Stevens, Benjamin 
FrankePs Sonata for violin, the Meditation and Lyric 
Interlude by Alan Bush, the sonatina by Robin Orr, as 
well as that of Lennox Berkeley, and many other works. 
In his extensive repertoire the concertos of Moeran, 
Bax and Bartok figure prominently, and his name will 
always be associated with that remarkable concerto by 
the Soviet composer Khachaturian, of which he gave 
the first performance in this country. 

To give even a rough outline of all Max RostaPs 
ideas on violin playing would be impossible here, but 
he has certain strong points of view that must be under- 
stood if one is to appreciate his approach to the art. 

He insists, for instance, that a violinist must be 


acquainted with the life of the composer he is trying to 
interpret, and with the social background of his period. 
It is impossible for any instrumentalist to translate 
into sound all the emotions, thoughts and peculiarities 
of the composer if he is entirely ignorant of his life, his 
temperament, beliefs, struggles, social environment and 
so forth. Moreover, no violinist can properly interpret 
a work if he is familiar with the composer's violin music 
only. Rostal declares, for example, that a violinist 
cannot comprehend Bach unless he understands the 
great emotional experience that is the very soul of such 
works as the St. Matthew Passion or the B minor Mass. 
Similarly, how can one play even a minor work of 
Beethoven intelligently unless one understands the 
symphonies and string quartets and knows something 
of the thoughts of the composer? 

Max Rostal is equally outspoken about the type of 
violinist who learns the solo part of a concerto and 
then calmly includes the work in his repertoire without 
even bothering to study the full score. It is unfortunately 
true that there are violinists who know nothing more 
of the orchestral part than their entries, and even these 
have more often than not been learned from a piano 
edition. How can one play the solo part of a concerto with 
understanding when one is entirely ignorant of the form 
or "structure" of the work as a whole? We are told that 
more than one soloist has discovered with some surprise 
during a concerto that the orchestra was playing and 
developing the principal theme! 

The necessity of a proper understanding of the 
composers, and of their major works, is continually 
being impressed upon RostaFs pupils. "The richer 
the mind, the richer the experience, the more colourful 
your interpretations will be," he declares. "You can't 
have too much technique, but technique alone is of no 
interest if the emotional and spiritual side is neglected." 

Max Rostal believes that the shallow-mindedness of 
some violinists was partly responsible for the decline 


in the Interest of violin concertos and solos generally a 
few years ago. The violinist should always remember 
that owing to the very nature of his instrument he must 
maintain a higher standard than the average pianist: 
he has far less chance of "getting away" with a slovenly 
performance. As Max Rostal neatly puts it: "The 
violin has no pedal!" 

His pupils are also urged to distrust the markings of 
editors and to seek as far as possible (in manuscripts, 
first editions, etc.) the composer's own indications on 
every work that is studied. Even the rhythm and notes 
of men's works have sometimes been altered by conceited 
editors, and the true musician must be willing to go to 
endless trouble to rectify vandalism of this type. "The 
majority of editions are not to be trusted," Rostal 

The question of style in playing is one that has always 
been a matter of great concern to this artist. Too much 
attention has already been paid to the "style" of 
individual violinists and their adherents, and this has 
been the cause of a great deal of wrong thinking. 
Strictly speaking, the violinist should have no personal 
style at all (if such a thing exists), because the style 
should always be that of the composer he is interpreting 
at the time. The so-called "Golden Tone" associated 
with Kreisler has been made almost ridiculous by 
indiscriminate use: it is, as Rostal says, like pouring 
golden syrup over everything you eat, including fish, 
meat and vegetables! Every single work requires its 
own peculiar type of expression: there are, of course, 
many similarities, but it is useless to try to prescribe 
any definite style or tone for any particular composer. 
Even within a single work, different types of expression 
and tone are frequently called for, "Golden rules" 
and generalizations are not only inartistic but definitely 
misleading. The solution, surely, is for the musician 
to become a faithfiil artist by making a sincere study of 
everything he performs. 


This brings us to another point: the extremists in 
the opposite direction who, with the fond belief that 
they are siding with the "purists", have evolved a non- 
emotional style of playing that throws overboard all 
the good traditions of the art, and with it, most of the 
knowledge that has been gained from the masters. The 
result is a cold, chromium-plated type of playing that 
has little but a pseudo-modernism to recommend 

It has been said by some that Max Rostal is establish- 
ing an English c 'school 55 of violin-playing, for none 
exists at the present time, but it is doubtful whether he 
would make such a claim himself, knowing the prejudice 
that this might cause in certain quarters. Nevertheless, 
his influence in this country is of the utmost significance 
to the art of violin-playing, for he has pupils, or ex- 
pupils, in every symphony orchestra of any importance 
in England, as well as those who spread the good 
news by teaching his methods, or are making a name 
as soloists and chamber-music players. Students come 
to him from all parts of the world: at the present 
time, for instance, America, South Africa, Australia,, 
New Zealand, Palestine, Sweden and Switzerland 
are represented among his pupils. Time may prove 
that just as one of our most famous orchestras 
was founded by a German, what may prove to be 
one of the most important schools of thought in 
English violin-playing will owe its existence to an 
Austrian, who, incidentally, became a naturalised 
British subject soon after the end of the Second World 

A few years ago Max Rostal acquired a superb 
Strad dated 1697, which is now known as the * 'Rostal 
Strad", since it possessed no other designation. He 
previously used a Guarnerius. His A and D strings are 
^uminium-covered; his G and E being the usual 
silver-covered and steel respectively, and he prefers to 
use modern bows. 


In private life, Max Rostal is a man of many interests, 
though he would always say that music is his principal 
hobby, and that he is one of those fortunate people whose 
work is also their recreation. He is a keen collector of 
first editions of music, not merely because of an acquisi- 
tive instinct but because first editions are less likely to 
bear the marks of "clever" editors. 

In art his interest is centred around the work of the 
French Impressionists, and he has several excellent 
examples of their works upon his walls. His reading, 
apart from books on music, is chiefly of philosophical 
works, but he frankly admits that he can often be caught 
with one of the better types of thriller, his taste for this 
sort of literature having been acquired chiefly in railway 
carriages when something fairly light, yet entirely 
absorbing, was necessary to while away the many 
weary hours of travelling that it has been his misfortune 
to endure. 

Out of doors his chief recreation is the driving of 
Ms powerful car, and he is never more pleased than when 
he is able to indulge in a few weeks' motoring in 
Switzerland. He is also very fond of animals cats and 
dogs in particular. 

A visit to his house in Hampstead would make any 
music-lover envious, not only of his fine library, but of a 
delightful detached music studio of the type that most 
of us long for, but so rarely succeed in acquiring (to the 
disappointment not only of ourselves but of our unfortu- 
nate neighbours). This one, at the end of his garden, 
which, by the way, suggests that he has a positive 
distaste for lawn-mowing, is a light and spacious sound- 
proof affair that houses his collection of instruments, 
including a fine grand piano, and his patiently collected 
library of scores some thousands of them. There is a 
no-nonsense atmosphere about this musician's workshop, 
and one cannot help feeling a little sympathetic towards 
the students who have to stand there and have their work 
criticized by this very shrewd artist. However, Max 


Rostal radiates an air of confidence, and one feels that 
after a year or two in this studio with him one could 
face an audience consisting of nothing but Richard 
Capells and Ernest Newmans without turning a hair. 


THERE must surely be few executive musicians 
of to-day who have done more in the cause of 
English music than Albert Sammons, and it was 
with great pleasure and satisfaction that the musical 
world heard of his award of the C.B.E. In the Birthday 
Honours of 1944. With all due respect to the great 
virtuosi of other nations, there is something refreshingly 
different about the playing of "our own Albert", as 
one conductor has referred to him, and if one may be 
forgiven a somewhat extravagant analogy, it is rather 
like going for a brisk walk across Wimbledon Common 
on a breezy spring morning after an hour spent in 
the humid atmosphere of a greenhouse in Kew Gardens. 
There is beauty, plenty of it, in both cases, but in the 
former there is physical stimulation as well, and in this 
country most of us find that a very agreeable mixture. 
This does not mean that foreign violinists are incapable 
of giving a stimulating performance, because there are 
half-a-dozen at least who pride themselves upon their 
unusual ability to stir their audiences in this way, but 
the stimulating qualities in the art of Albert Sammons 
are characteristically English, and to define them 
precisely here would be as impossible as an attempt 
to analyse somebody's personality in a couple of 
hundred words. And how immeasurably more difficult 
it is to dissect the art of the executive musician than that 
of the composer, the painter, sculptor or writer, for no 
two performances are exactly aKke. But surely, the 
reader will ask, the gramophone gives the violinist's 



art a degree of permanence? That Is true, but can one 
really judge a man's art from a mechanical reproduction 
of it? Here we come to a very controversial point over 
which a great deal of concern is felt. It is now quite an 
old topic, so little more need be said here, except that 
it is a matter that will crop up again later in this chapter, 

No, one can do little more than to say that the 
outstanding feature of Albert Sammon's playing, and 
that which appeals so strongly to us in this country, is 
its reflection of the wholesome qualities that go towards 
the making of what we are still proud to call the English 
way of life : its integrity, sturdiness, cleanliness, its lack 
of affectation and that horrible, morbid trait that some 
musicians cultivate with the notion that it is an essential 
attribute of genius. This style is built upon the sure 
foundation of excellent technique and a sincere desire 
to play faithfully the music he loves. 

As a man, he is the most normal person imaginable. 
In town he would pass for a stolid business man with a 
substantial house in one of the better-class suburbs; 
in the country he might easily be mistaken for the 
principal solicitor in the local market town with a 
grim determination to buy all the best of Sir John's 
silver as soon as the income tax collector succeeds in 
driving the poor old boy into his grave. But meet him 
in London and discuss music with him, and you begin 
to realize that here is an unusually knowledgeable 
musician who has derived the utmost benefit from his 
many years' experience as an orchestral player, in 
chamber music and as a soloist. That is an important 
point, for Albert Sammons has never been too proud 
to learn, in fact he readily acknowledges that he is 
almost entirely self-taught. How different has been his 
career from that of the pampered virtuoso whose 
complacency sets in at an early age and stifles all further 
artistic progress, who establishes a repertoire in his 
'teens and then drags it all over the world for the rest 
of his life like a conjuror with a bag of tricks. Sammons 


is of the type who realizes that a true musician never 
stops learning; a musician's education is never complete. 
Yet it is not until he takes up his fiddle to illustrate 
some point that he altogether ceases to be the conven- 
tional type of man that his appearance suggests. An 
expression of deep concentration and sensitivity appears 
on his face, and if you watch him carefully as he calmly 
plays a dozen bars of some extremely difficult concerto 
you realize that he listens with the utmost care to every 
note he produces. Watch his eyes, and you will see 
that every note, every phrase, every expression, is 
subjected, as it were, to an acid test as soon as it is 
created. He has an exceptionally acute ear, and this 
undoubtedly accounts for much of the merit in his 

The life of Albert Sammons has not been an easy 
one. He had the advantage of neither silver spoon nor 
wealthy patron in his early days; he has climbed the 
ladder rung by rung, from the very bottom to the very 
top. He was born in London on 23 February 1886, 
and in his childhood was encouraged to take an interest 
in music by his father, who was a good amateur violinist. 
No lad could have worked harder to master the fiddle 
than Albert Sammons, and as his parents were not 
wealthy, he soon began to look around for opportunities 
to earn his own pocket money with his beloved instru- 
ment. One thing led to another, and when this enterpris- 
ing boy was about eleven years old he received an 
engagement to play every evening in a Piccadilly 
restaurant. The idea of a boy of that age earning his 
own living seems almost fantastic to us to-day, but it 
certainly did him no harm. He was blessed with good 
physique, and never complained of the strain of playing 
for several hours every evening after tiring days at 
school. The orchestra played a wide range of light 
classical music, and the experience was, of course, of 
the utmost value; indeed, when Albert left school at 


the age of twelve, he had no difficulty in securing an 
engagement to play three times a day in the Earl's 
Court Exhibition orchestra. Looking back, he realizes 
that much was accomplished in those early days: 
restaurant orchestras and the like were good training 
grounds for any young musician, since they invariably 
played tolerably good music, including operatic selec- 
tions. The jazz band of to-day is a poor substitute 
and offers very little scope to the music student who is 
obliged to earn his living. 

So Sammons continued to educate himself, though 
it is true that he took half-a-dozen lessons or so from 
F. Weist-Hill and John Saunders. His periods of study 
had to be fitted in between all manner of engagements, 
in the orchestras of theatres and hotels, and in various 
other ensembles, some of which were formed for playing 
at balls and other social functions. Many a time did 
he don elaborate "musical comedy" uniforms for the 
purpose of playing in Hungarian bands and suchlike. 
He often recalls with a chuckle one Hungarian band 
in which he frequently played: it was supposed to be a 
genuine ensemble from Central Europe, and the players 
were strictly forbidden to talk in case it was discovered 
that very few, if any, could speak anything but English - 
and that with a pronounced Cockney accent! Like 
most other English musicians, Sammons learnt at an 
early age that English nationality was the greatest 
obstacle in the musical career of those who aspired to 
rise from the ranks of the orchestra. But he steadfastly 
refused to change his name, as several of his colleagues 
had done, to something ending in "ini" or "etti" or 
"ski" or "berg". Several people suggested that if he 
had a year or two abroad and then returned with an 
imposing foreign name and, perhaps, a habit of speaking 
in broken English, he might rise quickly to fame, for 
his remarkable technique was already the subject of 
comment. It was a great temptation, but he decided 
that it was his duty to play Ms part in breaking down 


the absurd prejudice against the English musician, so 
he would hear no more about it. 

He continued his struggle, earning his living as a 
rank-and-file musician, studying in his spare time, 
earning a few honest guineas here and there by teaching, 
and consoling himself that sooner or later his "break 95 
would come. Many a time did he miss the last horse- 
drawn 'bus and have to walk home three ^or four miles 
while some foreign musician of lesser skill was being 
taken back to one of London's more exclusive hotels 
in a carriage. 

At last, after some six or seven years, his opportunity 
came. One evening in 1908 he played the last two 
movements from the Mendelssohn Concerto at the 
Waldorf Hotel, and was quite unaware that anybody 
of musical importance was listening to him. Much to 
his surprise Sir (then Mr.) Thomas Beechain came for- 
ward to congratulate him, and later Coffered him the 
leadership of an orchestra he was forming in connection 
with a new venture in operatic and symphonic work. 
Sammons accepted on the spot, and held this post for 
the next five years, during which his progress was quite 

Like most other good students of the violin, he had 
a deep love of chamber music. Nothing pleased him 
more, therefore, than the offer he received in 1909 to 
become the first violin of that able group of musicians 
later known as the London String Quartet. Warwick 
Evans, Waldo Warner and Thomas Petre were the 
other members. With them he toured Europe and 
proved to foreign audiences that England could produce 
string players comparable with any that came from the 
Continent. This association lasted until 1919, the year 
in which Saminons decided to give up string quartet 
work so that he could specialize as a soloist. This did 
not mean that he had lost any of his love for chamber 
music: far from it. 

His first concerto engagement was at the Kursaal 



at Harrogate, but he was "discovered' 5 as a soloist when 
he played the G minor Concerto by Max Bruch at the 
Queen's Hall under Stanford. Imagine his joy when a 
day or two later he received a letter from Sir Landon 
Ronald saying that he had never heard a finer perform- 
ance and inviting him to play at the Albert Hall. 

Perhaps one of his most treasured memories of those 
early days, however, was the occasion in 1912 when he 
had the honour of playing the Saint-Saens B minor 
Concerto before King George V and Queen Mary, 
and in the presence of the composer. He had been 
appointed Musician in Ordinary to His Majesty in 
the previous year. 

It is significant that Sir Thomas Beecham has always 
held the opinion that Albert Sammons has at all times 
fully justified his early confidence in him. Through 
his connection with the great conductor, Sammons 
received many excellent appointments, including the 
leadership of the Royal Philharmonic Society orchestra. 
He also went to Berlin as leader of Beecham's Russian 
Ballet orchestra, and toured the British Isles with 
that conductor's own symphony orchestra. 

In 1913, Sammons accepted an appointment as 
leader of the Dieppe Symphony Orchestra under Pierre 
Monteux, little thinking that in the following year it 
would be brought to an abrupt end by the outbreak 
of the Great War. 

A rather curious thing happened to him in 1914: 
he was given a scholarship at the Royal College of 
Music. The offer was fully appreciated, of course, but 
he felt that to accept it would prejudice his professional 
career, for he was already becoming well-known as a 
soloist, so he asked the committee of the Patron's Fund 
if, instead of the scholarship, he could be given a grant 
to the value of it in order to pay off the balance that 
was still owing to a dealer for his Guadagnini violin. 
To his surprise, this most unusual suggestion was 


Sammons's repertoire had by this time been enriched 
by a work that he particularly loved : the violin concerto 
by Sir Edward Elgar. This superb composition, of 
which he was later to become the world's greatest 
exponent, had been wTitten in 1910 for Kreisler but 
had not, unfortunately, become very well known. At 
the outbreak of the Great War, Kreisler, who was later 
to join the Austrian army, was not available to play 
the concerto, and the musical world looked to Albert 
Sammons as being the only violinist who was capable of 
giving a satisfactory performance of it. Nothing could 
have pleased the English violinist more, and he gave up 
a great deal of his time to the study and practice of this 
superb work. It would be impossible to record the in- 
numerable occasions upon which Sammons has won an 
ovation with it, but it is significant that Elgar himself said 
that no one seemed to get to the heart of the concerto as 
Sammons did. Writing to the soloist after a performance 
of it a few years ago, John Barbirolli, the eminent 
conductor, declared : "We felt privileged to be associated 
with you in the performance of the Elgar, which will 
live long in our memories". 

It was during the Great War, when so many of the 
foreign violinists would not visit this country, that the 
British musical public began to realize that Albert 
Sammons had "arrived 5 * as a virtuoso of the front rank, 
and had done so without calling himself Sammonstein. 
That world-famous violinist Ysaye exclaimed: "At last 
England has a great violinist," when he heard Sammons 
play at Lord Curzon's house. Other distinguished 
musicians present on this occasion were Lionel Tertis, 
who has done more to reveal the charm of the viola 
than any other string-player of the past or present, 
and Arthur Rubinstein, the Polish pianist. 

Soon after his enlistment as a private in the Great 
War, Sammons found himself transferred to the Grena- 
dier Guards, and while he was in this regiment he led 
the strings of its orchestra and played the clarinet in 


the military band. He had never pretended to play 
the clarinet,, by the way, but a good musician can 
accomplish all sorts of strange musical tasks in an 
emergency, and with a few months' practice he was able 
to play all the marches and "selections" beloved by 
the band. 

As soon as he returned to civilian life he resumed his 
concert work, and before we go any further, mention 
must be made of the important tours he made with 
William Murdoch giving sonata recitals. These were 
widely appreciated, and did much to enhance the 
prestige of both musicians. 

Not long after the end of the Great War, Albert 
Sammons became very concerned at the inordinately 
large number of foreign musicians who were pouring 
into this country and taking concert engagements 
from the British musician. No one would wish to 
prevent a reasonable number of first-rate musicians 
from visiting England, and few begrudge them the 
fees they earn, although it may be said here that the 
astronomic fees demanded by some of them are not 
always in keeping with either their ability or their 
respect for the music they play. But in the early years 
of the "last peace' \ conditions were as bad for the 
professional musician as they are for the public in 
general to-day, and as more and more of these foreign 
artists arrived to snap up what few engagements there 
were, it became necessary for representatives of the 
English musicians to take action. Accordingly, Albert 
Sammons and a number of other artists, approached 
the Ministry of Labour and demanded some sort of 
official restraint upon these foreign visitors. Imagine 
the horror and disgust felt by the indignant deputation 
when a lofty civil servant informed them coldly that 
while the Ministry of Labour sympathized with them, 
very little could be done "because it would appear 
that there are no great English musicians. 5 * Albert 
Sammons has never forgotten that, and is therefore 


not very sympathetic towards those who believe that 
English music will never flourish until the art is 
nationalized and all musicians become civil servants. 

The name of Albert Sammons has become so linked 
with the Elgar Concerto in the minds of music-lovers, 
that some are apt to overlook another famous concerto 
with which he will always be associated. This is that 
superb work by Delius, which, because of its difficulty, 
is liable to become neglected. When it was first com- 
pleted the composer took it to Sammons for an expert 
opinion upon the solo part. The violinist made a careful 
study of it and then suggested a considerable number of 
amendments, particularly as some passages were quite 
unplayable. His suggestions were cordially welcomed 
by the composer, and a revised version was prepared, 
which, as many music-lovers are aware, is the one that 
was used when Sammons recorded the concerto for 
Columbia with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra 
under Dr. Malcolm Sargent. Commenting upon his 
performance, Delius said: "You played wonderfully, 
and with such thorough understanding and poetic 
feeling." He once declared that Beecham, Eugene 
Goossens and Albert Sammons were among the few 
who understood him and could properly interpret 
his music. 

Another concerto in which Sammons always shone 
one uses the past tense because he has now given up 
concerto work was the Brahms. After a performance 
of it with the BBC Symphony Orchestra Sir Adrian 
Boult wrote to him: "I can honestly say I never 
enjoyed a performance of the Brahms more." That, 
incidentally, was twenty years after he had first played 
it during the Great War, when the critics even then 
said that his performance ranked with the best from 

Then of course there is the Beethoven Concerto, 
which has at all times held a place of honour in his 


repertoire. He has played it over a hundred times 
and seventy of them were during the Second World 
War! This concerto, and the Elgar, Delius and Brahms, 
take first place among his "specialities", though he 
deeply loves the Mozart, Bach and Mendelssohn 
concertos, and has given some fine interpretations of 

About the ever-popular Mendelssohn Concerto he 
has strong views: first it is, and always will be, one of 
the finest compositions ever written for the violin, 
despite the sneers of those who invariably regard as 
worthless everything that appeals to the "ordinary 
listener"; and secondly, it is a very difficult work to 
play well, notwithstanding the number of people who 
regard it as one of those works that can be ripped off 
without a rehearsal. "There are more bad performances 
of the Mendelssohn Concerto by world-famous artists 
than of any other work in the repertoire of the instru- 
ment", Sammons declares. 

In a recent discussion with the author, he said that 
in his opinion the new Bartok concerto was very fine 
music but not a successful violin concerto in the sense 
that the Bloch concerto is, since Bartok apparently 
overlooked the smallness of the violin tone in contrast 
with that of the full orchestra. In this concerto the solo 
fiddle can be heard properly only if the orchestra is 
subdued to such an extent that much of the beauty 
of the "architecture" is lost. A great pity, because 
performances in which the conductor has to restrain 
the orchestra the whole time with an iron hand arc 
seldom very successful. In broadcast performances 
the soloist can, of course, be brought nearer the micro- 
phone, but that brings us to the thorny subject of 
"balance and control" which seems to be a perpetual 
perplexity with dozens of artists who broadcast regularly. 

Like many of his fellow artists, Sammons feels some 
concern about the degree of scope given to engineers 
and others who are allowed to exercise control between 


the microphone and transmitter, as it were. (Strictly 
speaking, the placing of the microphone is a far more 
important part of their work than the actual knob- 
twiddling.) Too often is the balance between the soloist 
and the accompanist far from perfect, indeed, there 
have been occasions when the result has been little 
short of ludicrous. Are these officials always qualified 
to exercise such tremendous and vital "control 35 ? Do 
they not work too much by "rule of thumb" methods? 
There is a strong feeling among musicians that the BBC 
should attend to this matter much more conscientiously 
if it is to avoid charges of vandalism in the future. 
Some of its outside broadcasts have been really incred- 
ible, notably relays from the Albert Hall, certain 
provincial halls and cathedrals. We have heard 
orchestras and choirs that seemed to be almost devoid 
of certain important sections, soloists that seemed to 
be nearly half-a-mile away, and, worst of all, ensembles 
that seemed to consist almost entirely of percussion 
instruments! The old stock retort: "It must be your 
set'* has long been refuted because dozens of people 
with excellent up-to-date receivers have complained 
on similar occasions. 

In a discussion on this subject Albert Sammons 
said he felt that the average "balance" test in the 
studio was sometimes far too casual, and rarely took 
into account the vast difference between an accompani- 
ment that consists of heavy clumps of chords and that 
which is made up of only a line or two of counterpoint. 
In the latter case the accompanist could be much 
nearer the soloist. 

The same questions arise in the making of gramo- 
phone records, though conditions are improving, and 
the companies do seem more anxious to get first-class 
results nowadays. Sammons has vivid memories of a 
recording he made some years ago with William 
Murdoch, They had been asked to record a Schubert 
sonata for a certain company and had spent a great 


deal of time in private rehearsal to get it as near perfect 
as was humanly possible. In this particular work there 
was a very delicate passage that had to be played in a 
gentle, tranquil manner, but before they had played 
more than a dozen bars of it in the recording studio 
they were stopped by the engineer in charge who said 
that they would have to play it much louder, and with 
more "body", otherwise he would not pass it. The two 
soloists were most willing to oblige, but were steadfastly 
resolved not to do anything that would alter the charac- 
ter of the work, for their professional reputations were 
involved. After repeating the passage much in their 
original manner it was apparently approved by the 
engineer, but it was not until the records were on sale 
in the shops that they discovered that the engineer 
had taken matters into his own hands entirely, and had 
amplified the section concerned to such an extent that 
it sounded almost like a cornet solo! Then, on top of 
this, one of the critics, in his review of the record, told 
Sammons that if he couldn't play Schubert properly 
he ought to leave it alone! 

On another occasion Albert Sammons encountered 
an engineer of that good-natured but very patronizing 
type who regards all musicians as temperamental, 
mentally deficient children who have to be patted on 
the head and fobbed off with bland assurances that 
everything will be all right. A recording he had made 
was played back to him, and he felt genuinely alarmed 
at the undue volume of his solo part, which again should 
have been very delicate and serene. "Is that really 
what the volume will be like on the finished records?" 
he asked incredulously. "Oh no!" the engineer laughed, 
"don't you worry, Mr. Sammons, we shall get it three or 
four times louder than that before weVe finished with it !** 

Conditions are not so bad to-day, of course, but 
Sammons still wonders whether it is fair to judge any 
musician from his recordings and broadcasts, for apart 
from the general expression, so many little subtleties 


in the playing of a fine artist who has spent months, 
even years, in the study of a particular work, can be 
"smoothed out" by a man who is more interested in 
electricity or mechanics than music. 

Noteworthy among the recordings made by Albert 
Sammons are those of the Delius Violin Concerto made 
with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under 
Sir Malcolm Sargent (Columbia) and of the Mozart 
Concertante Sinfonie for violin and viola (1^.364) made 
with Lionel Tertis and the London Philharmonic 
Orchestra conducted by the late Sir Hamilton Harty 
(Columbia). For the same company he has also recorded 
Dvorak's Humoreske. 

In his time, Sammons has played under almost 
every conductor of importance in the world. One can 
well imagine the rich experience gained from contact 
with such a wide variety of musicians: Sir Thomas 
Beecham, Sir Edward Elgar, Sir Henry J. Wood, Sir 
Adrian Boult, Sir Hamilton Harty, Sir Landon Ronald, 
John Barbirolli, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Mengelberg, 
Nikish, Safonov, Ernaldi, Monteux, Bruno Walter, 
and so forth. What a range of musical style is brought 
to mind as one reads those names ! Sammons has happy 
memories of all of them, as he has of the many com- 
posers he has been privileged to know, and as far as 
one can gather, his only complaint is that some of the 
British conductors tend to show far more respect to artists 
with foreign names than they do towards English soloists. 

Just as he is a ready champion for the cause of the 
British performer, Sammons is proud of the great com- 
posers that have done so much to raise our reputation 
in the world of music: Elgar, Delius, Vaughan Williams, 
Bax, Moeran, Bliss, John Ireland, Walton, Benjamin 
Britten ; all these, he declares, and many more, compare 
favourably with any foreign composers of their genera- 
tion. It is significant that the last four concertos he 
played were those of Delius, Dyson, Elgar and Moeran. 


He also attaches great Importance to the teaching of 
the rising generation of musicians, and many a good 
violinist of the future will be grateful for the fact that 
Albert Sammons has regarded it as a duty to set aside a 
definite proportion of his time to the training of the 
artists who will succeed him. He is a Fellow of the 
Royal College of Music, and is keenly interested in 
his professorial work. Thomas Matthews and Winifred 
Roberts were his pupils, and a very promising young 
artist in his care to-day is Alan Loveday. 

Sammons is himself of no particular "school" in 
music, and believes that it is up to every artist to develop 
his own personality. He has several ideas that have 
been described as "revolutionary" and has evolved a 
system of training using exercises that have the effect of 
concentrating all the best methods of the older masters. 
Most violinists are acquainted with his Virtuosic Studies 
and The Secret of Fine Technique. 

His advice to young players is "Concentrate upon 
perfect intonation. You will never distinguish yourself 
until your intonation is perfect, for it is this and artistic 
interpretation that marks the difference between the 
work of the great violinist and the mediocre. Bad 
intonation is the student's greatest fault." 

He is very modest about his accomplishments as a 
composer, yet his Phantasy String Quartet in B won 
him the Cobbett Chamber Music Prize some years ago. 
He has written a number of pleasant little violin solos 
that reveal a decided talent for writing effectively for 
his instrument. 

Sammons uses a superb Matteo Gofriller fiddle 
dated 1696. This beautiful instrument by the Venetian 
contemporary of Stradivarius has been his constant 
companion for the past twenty years. Previous to that 
he used a Strad, but he prefers his present instrument. 
He has several other fiddles which need not be mentioned 
here, and Is quite a connoisseur of all types of stringed 


Now a final word about him in general. Fame and 
honours have left "our own Albert" quite unaffected, 
and he has little use for the snobs of the musical world. 
No airs or graces, no "arty" poses, no affectations, no 
precious or "clever" theories spoil him: he can chat 
for half-an-hour to any member of the orchestra without 
making the latter feel self-conscious. And if you happen 
to overhear him talking to Jim or Bill or Charlie you 
will more likely hear him saying something about sport 
than attempting to describe that marvellous but 
unpublished quarter-tone rhapsody written by that 
unknown but frightfully clever young man who wears 
yellow trousers. It is twelve years since he played golf, 
but there are plenty of his friends who remember what 
a formidable rival he could be on the course. And in 
the "nineteenth hole" they still tell you ^the classic 
story of the newspaper reporter who interviewed 
Sammons one year when he won the championship 
at Bognor and gave a recital there the same evening. 
"But doesn't your golf interfere with your fiddle-playing, 
Mr. Sammons?" the journalist asked. "No," came the 
reply, "on the contrary, my fiddle-playing is apt to 
interfere with my golf." 


AMONG the rising generation of solo violinists 
Colin Sauer is unique. He is not only an able musician 
but a personality with a most unusual intellect, and it 
is going to be interesting to watch his career. In the 
struggle towards the front rank, the young artist of 
to-day has little time for anything but practice, practice 
and yet more practice. He may snatch an evening off 
to hear an internationally-famed virtuoso, but that 
evening will be spent in shrewd observation and critical 
listening solely with the object of gleaning knowledge 
that will be useful. He may read the life of a great 
composer, but he will probably be making notes for 
future use before he has got through the first few 
chapters, He may spend an evening at a cinema and 
allow his brain to be drugged for a few hours with 
synthetic sentiment, but he will walk home bitterly 
regretting the fact that he could have rehearsed half- 
a-dozen sonatas in the time he has wasted. Or he may 
even take a young lady for a walk across Hampstead 
Heath, but the conversation will almost certainly be 
of music or of other things they hope to do when music 
provides them with sufficient income to get married. 

It is unfortunately tine that many musicians possess, 
or develop, one-track minds. But the explanation is 
quite a simple one: unless he is a jazz-merchant, the 
musician of to-day has to train himself up to a high 
standard of proficiency and keep himself* there. To 
do that he is not likely to have much time for anything 
else before he reaches the age of thirty. After that age, 



he probably doesn't bother about thinking of anything 
else. There is, however, one other factor that must be 
borne in mind: unlike certain other professions law, 
medicine, literature, for instance music does not 
encourage its servants to mix with the "laity 55 or to 
understand them. A man could become a superb 
violinist or singer without even attempting to probe 
into the problems of humanity, but he would be a 
singularly unsuccessful doctor or lawyer. It is true that 
music takes the artist far afield, but how much does 
the travelling virtuoso learn of the cities and people 
he visits? Many an artist has assured us that there is 
little difference between an audience in Manchester 
and one in Munich, and at least one has had the impres- 
sion of playing before nothing but rows and rows of 
codfish. Music, therefore, is conducive to a form of 
narrow-mindedness that is of no service to art in 
general* It is an occupational disease to which certain 
sections of the profession are more susceptible than 
others. Composers, it seems, are comparatively free of 
the infection but are not immune. 

Colin Sauer is one of the few young solo artists who 
plan their lives so that their intellects develop with their 
artistic accomplishments. But that does not make him 
unique, because others who may be numbered among 
"the few" also appear in this volume. Where he 
stands quite alone, however, is that he studies, among 
other things, dogmatic theology! 

Despite his foreign-sounding name, he is a typical 
example of a cultured young Englishman, and his 
parents are entirely British. He was born at Ilford on 
13 July 1924, and knew nothing of the violin until he * 
started learning to play it in a school class at the age 
of nine. A year later he won a scholarship awarded 
by the National Union of School Orchestras which 
enabled him to make a further study of the violin in a 
class held by that organisation at the Guildhall School 
of Music. His progress was so remarkable that he was 


soon afterwards chosen to play solos at the concerts 
held by the National Union of School Orchestras at 
the Albert Hall. 

Meanwhile, he was receiving a general education 
at the County High School, Ilford. Mathematics was 
his best subject, but some idea of his general intelligence 
may be gathered from the fact that he gained nine 
credits in the London Matriculation, and this was in 
spite of all those little setbacks caused by the war, 
evacuation and whatnot. In passing, it might be added 
that he gave frequent recitals at school and, of course, 
took part in all the other music-making activities there. 

During his evacuation he was able to continue his 
study of music, and in due course he won a scholarship 
to the Royal Academy of Music, which decided for 
him the matter of a career. He studied there under 
Rowsby Woof and Frederick Grinke, and responded so 
well to their instruction that soon after his admission 
to the Academy he was able to accept orchestral 
engagements. One of the first was with the New London 
Orchestra under Alec Sherman, but he was soon to 
accept an appointment with the Boyd Neel Orchestra 
that was to last over two years. Useful experience was 
also gained when he was given opportunities of deputiz- 
ing in the London Philharmonic and Halle Orchestras. 

Orchestral experience alone, however, is not sufficient 
for a violinist aspiring to solo rank, and Sauer wisely 
accepted an appointment as second fiddle in the 
Aeolian Quartet. For two years he played with this 
ensemble giving many recitals and quite a number of 
broadcasts, but, in turn, this appointment had to be 
relinquished when he decided to specialize in solo 
work, since it would have been impossible to work 
up an adequate repertoire in the small amount of spare 
time he then had available. 

At first he was content to gain experience as a soloist 
in the provinces and with amateur orchestras, but in a 
surprisingly short time he was appearing with good 


professional string orchestras, such as Kathleen Riddick's 
excellent ensemble, and at all manner of chamber 
concerts, including that remarkable series at the National 
Gallery. And here the reader must be introduced to 
his sister Sheila, a talented pianist three years his junior, 
who has proved herself to be an able accompanist 
whenever she has appeared with her brother. Another 
young musician of interest who has frequently accom- 
panied Colin Sauer is Ronald Smith, a promising 
composer. Sauer gave the first performance of his 
violin concerto at the Academy under the direction of 
Clarence Raybould a few years ago. 

The first important recital given by Sauer in London 
was at the Wigmore Hall on 17 October 1946; an event 
that drew considerable attention to him even though 
he was then at that awkward age when he could be 
considered neither as a youthful prodigy nor a mature 
artist. Still, as the editor of The Strad put it, he showed 
his large audience that he was in quite a different 
category from the usual "promising young fiddler", 
The appropriateness of this remark was proved at 
another recital he gave at the same hall during the 
following summer, when his programme included works 
by Handel, Bach, Grieg, Achron, Bartok, Delius and 

Sauer's concerto repertoire is now being rapidly 
expanded, but it already includes the three Bach 
concertos, the Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Brahms, Lalo, 
Tchaikovsky, Bruch, Sibelius and Vaughan Williams 
(accademico], and by the time this book appears in print 
the list will probably be quite a lengthy one. 

The qualities that mark his playing are reliable 
intonation and the absence of the roughness that so 
often mars the work of young players. He uses 
aluminium-covered A and D strings and the customary 
silver-covered G. Of the violinists of to-day he regards 
Heifetz as the paragon, but considers that Szigeti has 


few equals in the playing of Bach, and that for sheer 
technique Ida Haendel stands alone, in this country 
at any rate. 

One reason why Sauer's intonation is so good is that 
he has an unusually acute faculty for hearing music 
mentally before he attempts to play it: a quality 
possessed by all good conductors; in fact, one that is 
indispensable to anybody who aspires to conduct. He 
finds that he makes the best progress by playing very 
short sessions of practice and doing a great deal of 
thinking in between. Nevertheless, he is always trying 
to discover the ideal method of practice: he finds it 
almost impossible to concentrate properly for any great 
length of time, and that practice without such concentra- 
tion is of little value. By the ordinary vague and 
haphazard type of practice, anything up to nine- 
tenths of one's time can be entirely wasted. 

Sauer finds that the best way to make steady 
progress is to concentrate upon one detail or action of 
playing at a time intonation, bowing, and so forth. 
He has discovered that as soon as he is sure of the 
intonation, a great deal can be done by practising the 
left hand alone. Some of his friends are amused at the 
methodical way in which he plans his rehearsing: he 
allocates a certain amount of time to each particular 
item and stops immediately he reaches the end of each 
period regardless of whether or not the piece has been 
sufficiently polished. He finds that on the following 
day he can quite easily pick up the threads again 
where he left off. 

Typical of this young artist is his belief that life 
itself is erven more wonderful than music. He deplores 
the narrow-mindedness, the limited vision, of the 
average executive musician, and insists that a musician 
cannot develop as a true artist unless he tries to under- 
stand the world outside his own little sphere; unless he 
is willing to grapple with the problems of life. 


Sauer takes a great interest in education and is 
convinced that, despite the grandiose schemes of the 
planners of to-day (they look so impressive on paper 
but are so miserable in practice), we have an enormous 
amount still to learn about the imparting of knowledge 
to the young. 

His reading of theology is no mere affectation: having 
passed through the atheistic and agnostic stages he is 
now a keen reader of Christian apologetics and will 
travel miles to hear any preacher who has something 
important to say, regardless of his denomination. 
Incidentally, Sauer is always having terrific arguments 
with his fellow musicians about religion. Evolution 
is also a subject that used to occupy his thoughts a great 
deal but lately it has been supplanted by philosophy, 
psychology and logic ! (One hopes he will stay on these 
broad and stable lines, and not start toying with the 
"isms", which have proved to be the undoing of more 
than one good musician.) 

Having sketched the best part of a reference library 
into this profile of Colin Sauer, it is now necessary only 
to add the athletic touch only in this case it is more of 
a splash than a touch, for while he was a schoolboy he 
was as crazy about cricket as any youngster in the first 
eleven, in fact for many years he wanted to become a 
County cricketer! He was destined, however, not for 
Lords but for Wimbledon, since the bat gave way to 
the racquet during the early years of adolescence. At 
fifteen he was accepted for the Junior Wimbledon, and 
he might have become a white-flannelled hero in at 
least one of the glossy weeklies had not a slight accident 
in the summer of 1946 checked his enthusiasm for the 
game: he strained a ligament in his right hand and 
was warned that a repetition of it would seriously affect 
his violin-playing. 

And now, as he has occupied more of our space 
than some of the violinists of international repute, we 
must bid him a hasty, if regretful, farewell. 

_ t^ s ? 




AS a contrast to the precise and restrained style of 
several of our leading violinists of to-day, Toscha SeideFs 
playing is remarkable in its emotion: the artist in him 
dominates everything, and he plays with a passion 
rarely found in modern musicians. His rich, warm 
tone can be sweet and gentle in a slow movement, bold 
and virile in the next, and can culminate in a fiery 
climax, yet all the time it seems to keep its own peculiarly 
spiritual character. 

Like Milstein, he came originally from the Russian 
city of Odessa, where he was born on 4 November 1900. 
His father was a local business man; his mother a 
schoolteacher, and but for the existence of an uncle 
who was an accomplished professional violinist, we 
might look in vain into his family history for musical 
antecedents of any distinction. But like so many 
Russians of the middle-class in those easy-going days, 
his parents were genuinely interested in music, and gave 
their son every encouragement when he displayed 
promise as a violinist. His first teacher was Max 
Fiedelmann, but in due course he was sent to study 
at the Stern Conservatorium in Berlin. 

Seidel was also a pupil of the renowned Auer, and 
in SaleskTs Famous Musicians of a Wandering Race there 
is quoted a statement made by him concerning Ms 
master's methods. It runs: 

"Professor Auer always taught us to play as 
individuals, and while he never allowed us to over- 
step the boundaries of the musically aesthetic, he 
M 163 


gave our individuality free play within its limits. 
When playing for him, if once I came to a passage 
which demanded an especially beautiful legato render- 
ing, he would say: 'Now show how you can sing!* 
The exquisite legato he taught was all a matter of 
perfect bowing, and as he often said, 'There must be 
no such things as strings and hair in the pupil's 
consciousness: one must not play the violin; one 
must sing the violin'." 

Seidel made his debut in 1915 when he played the 
Tchaikovsky Concerto at Christiania, as Oslo was 
then called. This led to a series of concerts in Scandina- 
via and Leningrad that launched him on a successful 
career. In his early youth he was so much in demand 
that his mother became anxious for his general education, 
which was in danger of being somewhat neglected, so 
during those first few tours, and even on his initial 
visit to America, she engaged a German professor to 
go with him and coach him in general educational 

For a year or two, Seidel's popularity was confined 
to Norway, Sweden and certain Russian cities, but his 
American debut was a great triumph and brought him 
almost at once into the ranks of international celebrities. 
The late H. E. Krehbiel, writing in the New York 
Tribune^ declared: 

"In dash and fire, breadth of bowing, solidity 
and richness of tone, his performance was unfor- 

A similar success was his first appearance in London. 
The critic of the Daily Mail remarked that: 

"Kreisler at his best did not play the Brahms 
Concerto with more animated passion than this 
youth, who showed no intimidation at its oppressive 
traditions, rather handling it heartily, whereby the 
music lived more warmly." 

Then he embarked upon world tours that took him 
almost all over the globe: he has been heard in every 


European musical centre of any importance (in Paris, 
especially, he has won many an ovation), and he has 
found favour in Australia and New Zealand as well as 
the Far East. 

America, however, was the country in which he 
found the greatest scope, and it is not surprising that 
he decided to settle there and to take American 
citizenship. He was naturalized in 1924, and now has 
a beautiful home in California where he frequently 
entertains his many musical friends. His marriage to 
Estelle Manheim took place on i January 1929. 

Seidel has always been a popular broadcaster, and 
for several years was the musical advisory director to 
the Columbia Broadcasting System. His taste in music 
is conservative, but he is not at all narrow-minded or 
biased, and can be relied upon to pass a shrewd opinion 
upon any type of music. Beethoven and Mozart are 
probably his favourite composers, but it is significant 
that he regards the Brahms Violin Concerto to be the 
finest work ever written for his instrument. 

In person he bears little resemblance to the average 
man's idea of a professional musician: he is a short 
but well-built figure fond of outdoor activities, especially 
golf, swimming, yachting and driving one of those 
enormously powerful cars that look like a cross between 
a speedboat and an aeroplane. As a diversion from 
music he reads a great deal of scientific literature and 
dabbles in photography. 

Films also appeal strongly to him, and just before 
the Second World War he was associated for some 
time with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It will probably be 
recalled that he recorded the sound-track of the 
Intermezzo in the film Escape to Happiness^ which 
featured Leslie Howard and Ingrid Bergman. To 
satisfy public demand, he afterwards made an ordinary 
gramophone record of this little Intermezzo, whicfi 
is called Souvenir de Vieme* 


One more point of biographical interest: in the 
summer of 1942 Seidel joined the U.S. Navy, and finding 
himself in the company of a few members of the Los 
Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, he organized a string 
quartet. Facilities for practising were given to them 
at their training station, and for some time afterwards 
they gave regular recitals to sailors in the naval hospital. 
As a result of this activity he was later appointed 
assistant bandmaster and soloist at the naval training 
station at San Diego, California. 


THE name of Szigeti has already been mentioned 
several times in this book, chiefly by those of his con- 
temporaries who greatly admire his * 'steel and velvet" 
tone, as one critic has described it. His approach to 
his art is essentially an intellectual one, and consequently 
he enjoys the esteem not only of the greater critics but 
of most modern composers, whose works he interprets 
with understanding and scrupulous care. His non- 
emotional manner of playing is apt to leave some 
listeners unmoved, and one occasionally hears it said 
that his "cerebral" interpretations lack feeling, but no 
one can deny that he is a great artist, and few would 
really wish him to modify the style that he has made 
his own. 

He was born at Budapest on 5 September 1892, 
taught by his father with the assistance of an uncle, 
and in due course was admitted to the Budapest 
Royal Academy of Music, where he became a pupil 
of that fine Hungarian violinist Jeno Httbay (1858-1937). 
Hubay's class was a bewildering collection of prodigies 
bent upon mastering the technicalities of violin-playpg 
in the shortest possible time so that they could satisfy 
the ambitions of their parents, but it was the best 
training ground available to Srigeti at the time, and he 
was only twelve years old when he had the honour of 
playing to Joachim, who was deeply impressed by his 
skill and gave him every encouragement. 

A year later he appeared at a public concert held 
at the Budapest Academy, and shortly afterwards made 



a successful debut In Berlin. Then in 1906 he came to 
England, and made his home here for over six years. 

His London debut at the Bechstein (now Wigmore) 
Hall was approved by many of our more discriminating 
musicians, but caused little stir in the press, probably 
on account of the number of boy prodigies that were 
then being thrust before the public. The Musical Times 
dismissed the recital in three lin^s thus: "Joska Szigeti, 
another Hungarian violinist prodigy, made his first 
appearance in England at the Bechstein Hall on 
24 May with the usual success." However, he then 
embarked upon a tour of the provinces and from time 
to time made many more highly-successful appearances 
in London, often in the distinguished company of such 
people as Busoni, Backhaus and Melba. 

In passing it should be said that he was a perfectly 
normal boy who lived a happy, healthy life. There 
was nothing of the pampered darling about him, and 
he was not made to live in the "hot-house" atmosphere 
enjoyed by the average child prodigy. 

As he grew up he transformed himself from the usual 
gifted child into an adult artist with a great deal more 
success than is usually the case: his musical intuition 
developed amazingly, and people began to realize 
that here was "a virtuoso with a difference." 

In 1917 he succeeded Henri Marteau (1874-1934), 
the distinguished French violinist and composer, as 
professor of the violin at the Geneva Conservatoire, 
and stayed there seven years, during which time he was 
frequently engaged as soloist for the Nikisch concerts 
In Berlin and important musical events in almost all 
the other capitals of Europe, including Paris, Brussels, 
Budapest, Bucharest, Stockholm, Madrid, Amsterdam, 
etc. At these he played under most of the greatest 
conductors of the day. 

He was still In Geneva when Leopold Stokowski, 
conductor of the famous Philadelphia Orchestra, became 


interested in him, having heard highly complimentary 
reports of his playing, and invited him to make a concert 
tour of the United States. Szigeti accepted, and made 
his American debut with that eminent conductor and 
his orchestra at Philadelphia in the autumn of 1925. 
Then he went on to win fresh laurels in New York, 
where he was well received, but owing to his peculiar 
style of playing, without evoking the somewhat hysterical 
enthusiasm that was then being lavished upon one or 
two of the more popular violinists. His reserved and 
scholarly manner did not appeal to the popular 
journalists, for instance, so he did not get any of those 
splashy "write-ups" that tend to stampede the public 
in the direction of the box-office. The better critics, 
on the other hand, wrote most appreciatively of his 
performance, drawing attention to the different phases 
of his artistry that were revealed as he changed from 
one type of music to another. (His programme had 
consisted of works by Tartini, Bach, Mozart, Bloch, 
Prokofiev, Veracini, Dvorak, Kreisler and Paganini.) 

So Szigeti built up his reputation as a scholarly 
violinist, and was content to rise slowly upon the good- 
will of the discriminating musician. By 1930 he was 
world-famous, having given recitals in almost every 
country of importance and been decorated by the 
French Government, who appointed him to the Legion 
of Honour, a rare award to a foreign musician. 

During the next few years he went twice round the 
world giving concerts at hundreds of musical centres. 
Frequent visits were made to the Far East and over a 
dozen to the Soviet Union. In England it was probably 
his playing of Sir Hamilton Harty's Concerto (which 
was dedicated to him) that first established him, and 
he was soon to play under all our great conductors. 
Sir Henry J. Wood and Sir Thomas Bcecham both 
recognized his unusual merits. 

Many a music-lover will remember the recitals 


Szigeti gave with Melba and John McCormack, but 
now his frequent visits here and excellent broadcasts 
have won him a greater public than ever before. 

During the Second World War he maintained his 
musical activities, but had one or two narrow escapes, 
as, for instance, when he gave up his reservation on an 
air-liner to an officer in the American Army. The 'plane 
crashed and all its passengers were killed. 

Szigeti is one of the most interesting personalities 
in music to-day: he is full of ideas and his interpretations 
are always interesting: many a time has he revealed 
some new beauty in a work that has always been over- 
looked by the majority of violinists, while his perform- 
ances are invariably stimulating. His readings are 
sometimes quite unusual, and have even caused surprise 
in the past, but there is always a well-reasoned 
explanation whenever he diverges from tradition. 

Nothing pleases Szigeti more than to give a recital 
in which he can introduce his audience to something 
new, or revive some work that has been unwarrantably 
neglected. To give a list of all such works would be 
impossible here, but it is worth mentioning that many 
contemporary composers have shown their esteem by 
dedicating new works to him, notably Bartok (Rhapsody 
for violin and orchestra, and the Rhapsody for violin, 
clarinet and piano), Bloch (Nuit exotique), Ysaye (violin 
sonata), and Prokofiev (Sonata in D major). The last- 
named was first performed in England by Szigeti on 
25 August 1946. 

Programme-building is an art in which Szigeti has 
few rivals: he spends a great deal of time in choosing 
his pieces, and arranges them in his programmes not 
merely in chronological order, as many artists do, but 
with special consideration for their mood and density. 
He believes that the order in which half-a-dozen pieces 
are played can be just as important as the manner in 
which an artist would display the same number of 



* C/3 




paintings upon a wall. Young violinists, especially, 
are apt to overlook the fact that a piece of music can 
be "killed 53 by an ill-chosen work immediately following 
it, just as the effect of a picture can be utterly spoilt 
by having an incongruous painting at its side. The 
dominant work of a programme should be preceded 
by pieces that lead up to it in a suitable manner. Now 
that audiences are becoming more discriminating and 
sensitive these seemingly unimportant details should 
never be overlooked. 

His repertoire is enormous, and includes an imposing 
list of modern works as well as many of the best classics. 
When Bloch wrote his violin concerto he was insistent 
that Szigeti should give the first performance of it, 
because he felt that in the hands of this fine artist it 
would certainly receive sympathetic treatment. Szigeti 
gave the first European performance of this work on 
9 March 1947 at a Philharmonic Concert under Sir 
Thomas Beecham. 

Prokofiev has always regarded Szigeti as his finest 
interpreter, and Bartok used to speak very highly of his 
readings. It would, however, be wrong to imagine that 
SzigetFs style is suited only to modern works, for it is 
readily adaptable to any style of composition. Although 
he is so successful with modern music he does not believe 
in specialization, which, he feels, is bound to limit 
one's artistic faculties, and when one hears him playing, 
say, the Brahms Concerto (of which he has given well 
over 150 performances) one realizes that he does not 
attempt to stamp it with his own style. He plays this 
concerto with an understanding that reveals a deep 
insight into the spirit of the work. He is not interested 
in sdf-glorification 

Similarly, although no violinist could have more 
up-to-date ideas about Iris art, he freely acknowledges 
that he has never forgotten the inspiration he received as 
a boy finom the playing of Joachim. He has the greatest 
respect for tradition, but does not make a fetish of it, 


He is said to possess "the most elegant right arm 
of living violinists", and listeners will probably have 
observed that he keeps it closer to his body than most 
violinists do to-day. Some teachers would severely criticize 
this, but it does not prevent him from achieving a wonder- 
ful elasticity. His left hand is amazingly accurate. The 
steely strength and smoothness of his style is particularly 
enjoyable in Bach: one cannot help feeling that the 
great organist would have beamed with joy if he could 
have heard SzigetTs delightfully clean playing of his 

The recordings he has made for Columbia include 
the Beethoven Concerto with the British Symphony 
Orchestra conducted by Bruno Walter; the Brahms 
Concerto with the Halle Orchestra under Sir Hamilton 
Harty; and with the London Philharmonic Orchestra 
conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham, the Mendelssohn, 
Prokofiev and Mozart No. 4 concertos. With Carl 
Flesch he also recorded the Bach D minor Concerto 
for two violins accompanied by an orchestra under 
Walter Goehr. 

Szigeti is tall and slim, and is never troubled by 
"nerves". He advises young violinists to do no more 
than two hours' practice a day but that must be really 
intensive and intelligent practice. This period of work 
should be preceded by mental preparation of the 
music to be played, for it is useless to start the 
"mechanics" of playing until one has a complete 
mental impression of the work. Diligent study of the 
music before the fiddle is taken in hand is one of the 
secrets of great artistry. One's style must of course be 
adapted to the type of work one is attempting: nobody 
plays Bach as they would Tchaikovsky, but people are 
less clear about the differences between other types of 

He would remind ambitious young violinists that 
the life of the virtuoso is not an easy one, and because 


one often has to rehearse in an Icy-cold hall immediately 
upon arrival and without the sustenance of even a light 
meal beforehand, he recommends that students should 
make a habit of rising at six o'clock, even on winter 
mornings, and practising for an hour before break- 

As one would imagine, he is a man of intellect, and 
can converse upon many subjects other than music. 
He is interested in science, art and literature, and reads 
a great deal, believing that a good background of general 
culture is indispensable to any musician. Too many 
musicians reveal in their playing that they are men of 
sadly limited interests, men with one-track minds whose 
knowledge of life is pitifully small. He is rarely bored: 
even the enormous amount of travelling he is compelled 
to do is a source of interest and enlightenment to him. 
The true artist, he believes, must know something of 
the world beyond his own little sphere. 

Szigeti is a great conversationalist, and can be 
extremely witty. He loves good company, and is never 
supercilious. Good dance music is always pleasant to 
him, and he has no snobbish feelings towards those who 
play it. When he wanted a really competent clarinettist 
to share with him the honour of giving the first perform- 
ance of Bartok's Rhapsody for clarinet, violin and 
piano he had no hesitation in choosing Benny Goodman, 
despite this able musician's reputation as a dance-band 

He is fond of cricket and takes an interest in a 
variety of sports, believing that they have a cultural 

His recently-completed autobiography, With Strings 
Attached^ has been published in New York by Knopf, 
but up to the time of writing has not yet appeared in 
this country. We are told that he wrote it a the hard 
way", that is, with neither secretary nor typewriter, 
chiefly in railway coaches. It is an absorbing collection 
of reminiscences that provide sidelights upon such 


diverse personalities as Stravinsky, Bartok, Duke Elling- 
ton, Thomas Mann, Benny Goodman, Albert Einstein, 
etc., and is rich in anecdote. He recalls the "indolent, 
languorous grace" of Melba's singing, the Wanamaker 
concerts by selected players using instruments from the 
famed collection, the amusing sight of Goldmark 
patiently soaking the stamps off return envelopes sent 
hopefully by autograph hunters doomed to disappoint- 
ment, and those words written to him by Busoni: 
"May your art satisfy you: others will rejoice in it, but 
the former is the more important." 


THIS eminent virtuoso is generally regarded as the 
great master of the French school of violin playing, and 
has appropriately been described as "a Parisian to his 

He was born at Bordeaux on 27 September 1880, 
son of a local violinist and teacher of music. Being 
unduly sensitive to music he was by far the keenest of 
his father's pupils. His father was very anxious that 
he should distinguish himself as a pianist and accordingly 
kept the lad at the keyboard until he was seven years 
old. Then, however, his course in music was changed, 
for he was taken to a symphony concert and heard 
the Beethoven Violin Concerto for the first time. It was 
an experience so moving that before the end of the 
work he was in tears : never before had a musical instru- 
ment spoken to him with such feeling. He went home 
carrying a vivid impression of the soloist in his mind, 
and resolved that somehow he, too, would play the 
violin in that manner. 

Seeing that his son had fallen in love with the 
violin, the wise music teacher raised no objection to 
his new ambition; indeed, he gave him every encourage- 
ment, and within two years he had become quite an 
accomplished little violinist. At about this time, when 
he was nine years old, Eugene Ysaye heard him play 
and spoke very highly of Ms talent. 

Nothing very startling was to happen during the 
next four years, however, and at the age of thirteen or 
fourteen he entered the Paris Conservatoire to become 



a pupil of Marsick (1848-1924, a pupil of Joachim). 
After two years with this Belgian violinist he won the 
first prize for his instrument. 

Although he was by then an excellent violinist, no 
great opportunity came his way, and for two or three 
years he was obliged to earn his living by accepting 
quite humble engagements: in a cafe in the Latin 
Quarter of Paris, for instance, and at the Concert 
Rouge. It might be added that he never regretted 
this experience as a rank-and-file musician. 

When he was about seventeen he was offered a 
place in the famous Colonne Orchestra, and came to the 
notice of Edouard Golonne himself, who kindly offered 
to give him further lessons. Under the guidance of 
this able musician he made further progress, and the 
opportunity for which he had waited came at last on a 
Sunday when the leader of the orchestra happened to 
be taken ill. Thibaud was delighted when he was asked 
to fill the man's place, and as luck would have it, the 
programme included the Saint-Saens Prelude to The 
Deluge, which contains a fine violin solo. In this Thibaud 
made such a good impression that immediately after the 
concert he received an engagement as a soloist. Within 
a little while he was so heavily booked-up for solo work 
that he was obliged to resign his orchestral appointment. 

His debut as a soloist was at the annual festival at 
Anger, in 1898, and during the following season he 
made well over fifty appearances supported by the 
Golonne Orchestra. After this he simply leapt to fame, 
as one may gather from the statement made by Ysaye, 
who watched his career with the greatest interest: 
"There are two violinists from whose playing I can 
always be certain of learning something. They are 
Kreisler and Thibaud." 

Tours of France, England, Belgium, Germany, 
Italy, Holland and other European countries, put 
his name on the lips of many millions of music lovers, 
and in 1903 he made his first visit to the United States. 


His American debut was made in New York with the 
Wetzler Orchestra, and he won high praise in the 
concertos of Mozart and Saint-Saens. 

Like most Frenchmen, Thibaud is a strong patriot 
at heart despite the cosmopolitan feeling that the 
travelling virtuoso is bound to acquire in time, and he 
was proud to serve his country during the Great War, 
With the French Army he spent nearly two years in 
the front lines, and was in action at Ypres, Champagne,. 
Marne, Aisne, Arras and Verdun, After being wounded 
fortunately not too seriously he was taken to 
hospital and afterwards discharged. 

Resuming his life as a touring virtuoso he soon found 
himself going further and further afield, and some idea 
of his travels may be gained from the fact that between 
the two world wars he visited such countries as China 
and Japan, India, South America and a dozen others. 
It should be noted, however, that during the Nazi 
regime he repeatedly refused to play in Germany. 
Many of his finest recitals have been given with his 
two brothers: Francis, a 'cellist of great merit, and 
Joseph, a masterly pianist. 

During the Second World War he spent much of 
his time in writing his memoirs, and he also became a 
member of the French Intelligence Service because his 
knowledge of high-ranking persons in almost every 
country of the world proved to be of the utmost value, 

Thibaud possesses an exquisite Pique which formerly 
belonged to Ysaye, and also plays upon a Vuillaume: 
a reproduction of "Le Messie". His finest instrument, 
however, is the superb 1709 Strad that was formerly 
used by another distinguished French violinist, Pierre 
Baillot (1771-1842). 

His playing is remarkable for several outstanding 
qualities. The tone, for instance, is warm and mellow, 
yet of the utmost purity: he never indulges in that type 
of emotional playing that borders upon vulgarity. His 


bowing is supremely graceful. As one would imagine, 
he excels in the interpretation of French music he has 
always made a speciality of it but his playing of 
Bach, Mozart and Beethoven leaves little to be desired. 
Speaking generally, he seems more at home in highly- 
coloured works the Saint-Saens B minor Concerto, 
for instance and those who heard him in London in 
the spring of 1945 will agree that his style is eminently 
suited to such works as Chausson's Poeme and Lalo's 
Symphonic Espagnole. A point of interest is that Thibaud 
always likes to concentrate in silence upon the music 
he is to play for at least fifteen minutes before a conceit. 
He is a very temperamental musician and even a slight 
disturbance can distract his attention, but "nerves" do 
not worry him. 

He attaches great importance to the social value 
of music, and he believes that music has a special 
mission to take people's minds off the perplexities and 
sorrows of everyday life. For that reason he finds it 
difficult to be patient with those who insist that the 
chief purpose of modern music is to depict the ugliness 
and harshness of life to-day. People don't want to have 
their miseries and worries reflected in music: they 
want to get away from them. 

Like Elman, Thibaud feels that one should not 
approach music in the critical frame of mind: it is a 
great mistake to go to a concert with the intention of 
finding fault and displaying one's "sensitivity" to 
imperfections as some people like to do. He has often 
sat in the audience when some well-meaning but 
not-too-well-accomplished musician has done his best 
to interpret a difficult work and been greatly irritated 
by the comments of "superior" people who find a 
fiendish joy in pouncing upon the slightest fault. They 
make no real effort to appreciate the music at all. 
Incidentally, artists of the standing of Thibaud, Heifetz, 
and so forth, are not flattered by the attendance of 
those who go to their concerts merely because their 


technique is supposed to be flawless. Thibaud believes 
that the true music-lover is one who goes to a concert 
in a mood conducive to the understanding of the music 
he is about to hear. An experienced musician can sense 
that mood quite easily and is more likely to give of his 
best than if he feels he is being regarded merely as a sort 
of wizard who has come to dazzle his audience with 
musical gymnastics. 

Thibaud's great interest in chamber music is well 
known, and some of his finest recordings are those in 
which he joins with other distinguished artists in the 
performance of classical trios. There is, for instance, 
the Beethoven Trio in B-flat, Opus 97 (The Arch-Duke) 
in which he can be heard with Gortot and Casals, and 
with the same artists he has recorded the Haydn Trio 
in G major and the Schubert Trio No. I in B-flat 3 Opus 
99. These three are H.M.V. recordings. 


IN a north-country coal-pit during the "eighties" 
there worked a lad of seventeen or eighteen whose one 
great desire in life was to become a professional 
musician. He had decided talent of that there was no 
doubt but conditions in the coal mining areas in those 
days offered little encouragement to those who wished 
to practise an ait as a livelihood. Life was grim; but 
so was the determination of this ambitious youth. 
Hours were long very long indeed if judged by modern 
standards and the work was utterly exhausting; yet 
this young man would go home and practise his fiddle 
hour after hour, often working into the early hours of 
the morning. Eventually, his perseverance was re- 
warded, and in due course he was able to come to London 
as a rank-and-file musician. 

Having started somewhat later than usual, Wilson 
for that was his name saw that the chances of his 
fulfilling his ambition to become a solo artist were 
remote indeed, and as the years slipped by he became 
content to lead a life that had become agreeable to 
him: playing in the orchestras of London theatres. 
For many years he was the leader of the Gaiety 
Theatre orchestra. 

In 1903 his wife bore him a daughter, Marie, and 
during the next few years he became more and more 
gratified to observe that his child had inherited his 
love of music. In time, too, it became evident that she 
was unusually gifted, for she began playing the violin 
with remarkable facility. 



Believing that his daughter could succeed where he 
had failed; that she could reach the goal that was now 
too distant an objective for himself, he devoted several 
hours every day to her instruction. But a difficulty 
arose almost immediately. Like many a gifted child, 
Marie was restless and did not take kindly to the 
drudgery of practising on her fiddle for three or four 
hours a day. There were times when she loved the 
streams of melody that could be drawn from her 
instrument, but others when the wearisome playing 
of scales for hour after hour made her positively loathe 
the violin and everything connected with it. She had 
a will of her own, but so had her father, and being a 
man who had become accustomed to hard work, he 
was not going to let his daughter fritter away her time, 
so Marie had to do her daily practice whether she liked 
it or not. 

It must have been when she was about six years 
old that she was given her first opportunity to play in 

Eublic. She was not at all excited at the prospect, and 
er parents began to wonder what sort of inducement 
they could offer to make her work diligently for the 
event. At last her mother hit upon an idea that was to 
prove extremely useful during the ensuing years. 
Marie's interest in music had always taken second place to 
her love of good food, so her mother pointed out that at the 
concert there would be refreshments during the interval. 
"Refreshments?" the child echoed, her mind conjur- 
ing up visions of iced cakes. There was now a new light 
of understanding in her eyes, "Oh, well then, perhaps 
it will be worth while. . . .** 

It so happened that Marie had to play the item 
immediately before the interval. This she did, with 
exceptional skill, but scarcely had the sound of the last 
note left her instrument than with but a perfoectoy 
nod to the audience for their generous applause she 
dashed from the stage with the words: "Now, Mum, 
where are those refreshments? . . .** 


For years afterwards, her parents found that the 
easiest way to make Marie work for a concert was to 
assure her that the catering arrangements were in good 

Marie Wilson went to the Royal College of Music 
when she was fifteen, and three years later, while still 
a student, she became a member of the Queen's Hall 
Orchestra under the late Sir Henry Wood. This engage- 
ment w r as most welcome, not only because she had to 
help support her father, who was rapidly becoming a 
chronic invalid, but because few women had won places 
in the ranks of the leading professional orchestras in 
those days, and her achievement at such an early age 
was, to say the least, very encouraging. Thus, as a pupil 
of Maurice Sons (1857-1942, pupil of Wieniawski) at 
the College, and as a member of an orchestra under 
Sir Henry Wood's personal guidance, she received as 
good a musical education as any violinist in this country 
could desire. 

In those days the early nineteen-twenties she 
also formed a string quartet which did particularly 
good work for the BBC during the first few years of 
broadcasting. Her time was then occupied with an 
amazingly full programme of concerts, recitals, broad- 
casts and recordings; so full, in fact, that in 1925 the 
demand for solo work had become so pressing that she 
was obliged to give up the Queen's Hall Orchestra. 

The next four years saw her working chiefly as a 
soloist, and making an excellent reputation as such, 
but during 1929 the BBC approached her several times 
with a request that she should join the fine new symphony 
orchestra that the Corporation was about to assemble. 
She refused at least twice, but the temptation of a 
regular salary instead of the fluctuating income from 
solo work, and the news that some of the finest orchestral 
players in the world were entering this new orchestra 
eventually made her decide to accept the offer, and with 
some reluctance she gave up a substantial part of her 


solo work. She actually joined the BBC Symphony 
Orchestra in 1930, the year in which it was consolidated. 

From being a rising young soloist, Marie Wilson 
became " without doubt the greatest woman orchestral 
player in the world". Those are Sir Adrian Boult's 
words, and are an apt tribute to this excellent violinist. 
After the resignation of the late Arthur Catterall (1883- 
1943) she became sub-leader to Paul Beard in the full 
ensemble, and leader of Section G. 

To give an account of all the fine concerts, the 
wonderful tours and other experiences she enjoyed 
during those years as an orchestral player would take 
at least fifty pages, so little more can be said than a few 
passing words. Her popularity in the orchestra was no 
doubt due not only to her outstanding ability but to 
her sense of humour and "heartiness" generally. 
Everybody liked her. She took in good part, and even 
revelled in, the coarse little nickname (which shall not 
be repeated here) that referred to her enormous 
appetite! When the orchestra was on tour most of its 
members always upheld the musicians' tradition of 
washing down good music with good ale at a local 
tavern. Marie Wilson has never been very fond of 
strong drink, and would generally accompany them only 
if they could assure her that the "local" was one of 
those more hospitable places where "snacks at the 
counter" were available. Otherwise she would go off 
on her own, or with some other like-minded member, 
in search of a good restaurant ... or two. 

Another recognition of her achievements came IB 
1936 when she was made a professor at the Royal 
College of Music. She still holds this appointment, 
and takes the keenest interest in the various young 
students entrusted to her. 

In October 1944 Marie Wilson left the BBC 
Symphony Orchestra in order to devote herself once 
again entirely to solo work. She did so not withoot 
regret, for her years in that ensemble had been very 


happy ones, but it had become most difficult to fit in 
her solo engagements with the orchestra's timetable, and 
to have stayed with the BBC would probably have 
meant spending the rest of her life as an orchestral 
player. One of her first engagements after this decision 
had been put into effect was to broadcast the Bax 
violin concerto. Some idea of the impression she made 
may be gained from a letter she received from the 
composer himself a few days later. In this, Sir Arnold 
says: "All my gratitude for your lovely performance 
of my concerto last night. All your tempi are exactly 
right remarkably so. It was perfect, and I hope I 
may hear you play it many times in future." 

During the past three years or so, Marie Wilson 
has built up an enviable reputation in concerto and 
sonata work. She is essentially a classical violinist, 
and readily acknowledges her allegiance to the "purist" 
school of thought. She does not care for the "pretty" 
style of playing. Her scholarly readings of Mozart 
(especially the Concerto in A) and of the Beethoven 
Concerto suggest that she has a deep feeling for the 
works of these two composers. Her Bach, too, is 
excellent, particularly in Concertos Nos. i in A minor, 
2 in E, and 3 in D minor for two violins. 

She takes a great interest in modern music, and her 
repertoire includes concertos by Bloch, Bruch, Delius, 
Vaughan Williams, Miaskovski and Prokofiev, as well 
as the Bax Concerto. Mention might also be made 
of the Brahms, Mendelssohn, DvoMk, Glazounov and 
Saint-Saens (No. 3) concertos, all of which appeal 
strongly to her. 

Marie Wilson's style is invariably good sensitive 
and assured and she gets a very beautiful tone from 
her Guadagnini. Her cantabile is always an outstanding 
feature of her playing, due, no doubt, to her fine sense 
of phrasing, a quality that is often insufficiently ap- 
preciated. She is one of those who prefer to keep to 
the old-fashioned gut A string, but uses an aluminium- 


covered D and the conventional silver-covered G. On 
the bow she uses all four fingers, lifting the little finger 
for spiccato, but does not believe that there need be any 
definite rule on the holding of the bow; it should be a 
matter of personal expedience. Of the eminent violinists 
she particularly admires, Ginette Neveu, Milstein 
and Heifetz are perhaps the most outstanding. Her 
experience of playing under eminent conductors has, 
of course, been extensive and beneficial, and she is 
especially grateful for the great work of the late Sir 
Henry Wood. Of the others, she esteems Sir Adrian 
Boult for his scholarship, Sir Malcolm Sargent for his 
vitality and love of hard work, Koussevitzky as a great 
trainer, and Toscanini for sheer genius. There are, of 
course, others for whom she has respect, but this is not 
the place for a critical survey of orchestral conductors. 

Miss Wilson is very impressed by the amount of 
talent there is to-day among students of the violin: 
some of them seem to possess exceptional gifts as far 
as technique is concerned. This is not only in London: 
she was adjudicating at a festival in the provinces 
recently and found tike same promise there, In spite 
of the pessimistic statements made from time to time 
by other prominent violinists, Miss Wilson feels that 
there are more opportunities for talented youth to-day 
than there were twenty or thirty years ago. Her chief 
concern is that although the general standard of playing 
is very high among students and amateurs, so many 
of them are guilty of lapses into bad intonation. She 
feds that this can best be remedied in the daily scale 
practice (she is a firm believer in regular daily practice) 
by thoughtful playing. It is useless to rip off scales without 
listening attentively to the sounds one produces. 

To the young violinist she says: "listen carefully to 
the playing of the great virtuosi, but do not copy the 
style of any one of them slavishly: it is better to ta&e 
the best attributes of all and to mould your own 
upon them. 


Miss Wilson is a great believer in the "slow practice" 
method, and considers that sessions of an hour or an 
hour-and-a-half are quite long enough. Full-time 
students should arrange their work in sessions of this 
length and allow themselves to relax completely in 
the intervening periods. They should also remember 
the importance of maintaining a good physique: the 
performance of music is a most exacting and fatiguing 
occupation, and it cannot be done properly by those 
who feel tired most of the time. Late nights, if indulged 
in more than once or twice a week, can spoil the work 
of even the most gifted performer. 

In her own career, she has found that her English 
name has been the greatest obstacle to popular success. 
English audiences are still influenced by foreign-sounding 
names, despite the fine achievements of British artists 
and composers during the past four or five decades. 

Miss Wilson is absolutely free of affectation : she has 
no use whatever for musical snobbery. On two or three 
occasions she has taken part in light music performances, 
and quite enjoyed them. Some time ago she appeared 
in a variety programme at Douglas, Isle of Man, with 
Issy Bonn, and, incidentally, drew one of the greatest 
audiences she had ever known. She is a keen radio 
listener, enjoying not only the music but plays and such 
programmes as "Ignorance is Bliss" and "Merry-go- 
round". Dance music, if it is well played, always 
appeals to her, and she has a particular liking for 
rumbas if the rhythm is good. She can always enjoy 
an evening at the theatre or a good book by her fireside. 
Her literary taste is for such authors as Jane Austen > 
Dickens, Hugh Walpole and John Galsworthy, though 
you will also find a selection of thrillers stuffed in odd 
corners of her bookshelves. 

But if she were asked what subject, apart from music > 
was foremost in her mind, she would reply promptly 
and candidly: "Food". It is a standing joke enjoyed 
by herself as much as by her friends. She believes 


wholeheartedly in the value of good, nourishing food 
prepared in an appetizing manner. In the kitchen she 
is quite a genius, in fact her friends declare that she could 
probably earn as much practising the culinary art in 
a West End restaurant as she can wielding the bow in 
the concert hall. Sooner or later one of our enterprising 
young composers will probably write a rhapsody about 
Marie Wilson's cakes. 


OUR last sketch is of a celebrated artist who in this 
country is rather less known to-day than most of the 
other world-famous violinists: Efrem Zimbalist. 

He was born at Rostov-on-Don in April 1889, 
son of Alexander Zimbalist an orchestral conductor 
who gave him a good grounding in music. The first 
fourteen years of his life were more or less uneventful, 
though even as a boy he was such a reliable little violinist 
that at the age of nine he was allowed to lead the 
orchestra in the opera house at Rostov. In 1903 he 
entered the St. Petersburg Conservatoire and had the 
honour of studying under the great Leopold Auer. His 
studentship at this famous academy, in the company of 
many others who were later to rise to world-wide fame, 
was brilliant in every way, and nobody was surprised 
when he won the coveted gold medal and the Rubinstein 
scholarship of 1,200 roubles. 

Most of his early triumphs took place beyond the 
borders of his native land. He made his first appearance 
in Germany at a Berlin concert on 7 November 1907 
and gave a sensational rendering of the Brahms Concerto. 
Two months later he was in London, and it is interesting 
to turn back the pages of history, as it were, and see 
what the Musical Times had to say about his debut 
here on 9 December. The following extract is from the 
January (1908) issue of that journal : 

"A fellow student of Mischa Elman under 
Professor Auer, and styling himself 'Zimbalist', made 
his first appearance in London on December gth at 



Queen's Hall. The newcomer, stated to be only 
fourteen 1 years of age, possesses musical talent and 
executive facility extraordinary for his years, even in 
these days of youthful precocity. Supported by the 
London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mr. 
Landon Ronald, he played the solo part of Tchaikov- 
sky's Violin Concerto with such firmness and brilliancy 
as to excite enthusiastic applause. He was heard to 
greater advantage, however, in Lalo's Symphonic 
Espagnole, a work that seemed to be more within the 
range of his expressive powers. That Zimbalist will 
become an artist of the first rank there can be little 

After a prolonged tour of European countries that 
lasted nearly three years, Zimbalist made his debut in 
America with the Boston Symphony Orchestra on 
27 October 1911. His success was instantaneous: 
rarely had the Glazounov Concerto been played in 
such a rich, colourful manner. Everybody marvelled 
at his glorious tone, his exquisite cantilena and faultless 
technique, so it was not surprising that offers of other 
engagements were showered upon him for months 

During the next two or three decades he was to go 
to all corners of the earth. His concert tours have taken 
him well over a million miles an average of more than 
30,000 a year. Typical of the longer tours is the one 
he made some years ago when he went from America 
to Australia, then turned northwards and went right 
through Japan, returned to Australia by another route, 
and then did a seemingly endless tour of most of the 
European countries. He has made no less titan six 
tours of the Far East, and in the days when the Emperor 
of Japan was regarded as a deity he was accorded tbe 
rare privilege of hearing the Imperial Orchestra* Only 
two or three other visitors from the Western Hemisphere 
had thus been honoured. 
1 This is Incorrect of course. 


Zimbalisfs first marriage, which took place in 
London on 15 June 1914, was to Alma Gluck, the 
eminent soprano singer, who frequently toured with 
him. Shortly afterwards she gave up her career entirely 
to devote herself to her husband and home. They had 
two children: Maria (now Mrs. Henry F. Bennett, 
Jnr.) and Efrem. 

After the death of Alma Gluck, Zimbalist married 
Mary Louise Curtis Bok in 1943. Mrs. Bok was the 
widow of Edward E. Bok, who won the Pulitzer Prize 
for his book The Americanization of Edward Bok. He 
founded the famous Curtis Institute of Music, Philadel- 
phia, of which Zimbalist has been the Director since 
1941, having joined its faculty in 1928. 

The outstanding qualities of Zimbalist's playing 
are his superb, rich tone, which is astonishingly powerful 
at times yet never seems to be forced, and his incredible 
technique, which according to one critic is "as near 
perfect as any human violinist is likely to get." He plays 
with very great feeling, but always remains well poised 
and seems to keep surprisingly cool. He does not 
indulge in musical extravagance, and has no airs and 

Zimbalist has composed quite a lot of music, 
including songs and piano music as well as pieces for 
the violin. His orchestral compositions include a 
concert phantasy on Rimsky-Korsakov's Cog d'or; 
American Rhapsody; a tone poem entitled Portrait of an 
Artist which was first performed by the Philadelphia 
Orchestra on 7 December 1945; and a Concerto in 
C-sharp minor for violin and orchestra, first played in 
public on 28 November 1947, by the composer with 
the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy. 
He has also written an effective Sonata in G minor 
for violin and piano, a String Quartet in E minor, and 
a suite of Spanish dances called Sarasateana. 

He has always specialized in modern music, and 
many of our twentieth-century composers have reason 


to feel grateful to him for introducing their work to 
the pubKc ; A substantial part of his spare time is spent 
in^ examining new works of living composers, and few 
things give him more pleasure than to announce his 
discovery of a really promising work from some young 
composer who is struggling to achieve recognition. 
Among the many new works he has introduced are the 
concertos of Ernest Schelling, Frederick Stock, John 
Powell, Albert Spalding and Tor Aulin. During the 
1947-8 season he gave an important series of historical 
violin recitals in New York City. 

A genial personality, modest in the extreme, and 
a great wit, Zimbalist loves good company, and his 
friends say that he will throw a party at the slightest 
provocation. He enjoys good vintage wines and is 
a connoisseur of cigars, much to the delight of those 
who have the honour of joining him for an evening's 
chamber music, for he is always most generous, and 
consequently there is something of a fifty-thousand-a- 
year atmosphere about the place by the end of the 
evening. Such hospitality does not bear thinking 
about in this land of austerity. An evening with 
Zimbalist generally concludes with bridge or poker, 
* but unless you are an exceptionally good player it is 
better to think of some ingenious excuse for an early 

During the greater part of his life Zimbalist has been 
an incorrigible collector. When on his world-wide 
tours he spent most of his spare time scouring old book- 
shops and antique dealers' showrooms, and had some 
remarkable * 'finds" less in recent years, perhaps, 
owing to the growing astuteness of the gentlemen who 
run those establishments. His library of precious first 
editions and manuscripts became so large a few years 
ago that he was compelled to sell part of it by auction. 

He also acquired one of the finest collections of 
violins in the world, but has now sold most of these 


historic instruments; one of the exceptions being his 
famous "Titian" Stradivarius, which some authorities 
consider to be the most lovely-toned fiddle in existence. 
Another of his hobbies was the collecting of what 
he calls Orientalia, and for many years he specialized 
in ancient Japanese medicine cases and Chinese snuff 
bottles. Most forms of Eastern art appeal strongly to 
him, and any visitor to his home would discover 
specimens of such works that amply justify his enthusiasm 
for the art treasures of the Orient.